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Visit to Abruzzo

Teramo, Italy


Have been to the small town of Valle San Giovanni near Teramo in Abruzzo. More information at: www.vallesangiovanni.com

permalink written by  ulissi on October 14, 2006 from Teramo, Italy
from the travel blog: Italy
tagged Teramo, Abruzzo, Italy, Vacation and Holiday

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Italy Vacation

Frankfurt, Germany


Modern Italian was born in Tuscany, from the great literature of Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio. Can there be a deeper bond, a greater and more noble debt owed by a nation to one of its regions, than that of the common language? But the whole of Europe is in debt to Tuscany for its extraordinary contribution to European culture. It was in Tuscany between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries that the great era of humanism and the Renaissance was born and developed, movements which radically renewed the culture and art of the time, leaving a profound and indelible mark on the common civilisation of Europe. Of that extraordinary period of history, Tuscany, starting from the regional capital Florence, bears the greatest witness. Great works of civic and religious architecture, sculpture and paintings of extraordinary artistic value, testify to the creative genius of great artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Filippo Brunelleschi. But Tuscany is not just Florence. There is Siena too, with its Piazza del Campo, the theatre each summer for its famous Palio. In the province of Siena (also famous for its great wines, such as Chianti and Brunello) Montepulciano and Pienza stand out, extraordinary gems of renaissance art, and San Gimignano, with its famous towers and turreted houses. Then there is Pisa with its world-famous leaning tower; Carrara, with its Duomo clad in the precious marble that takes the name of the city; and also Lucca, Pistoia, Arezzo, Grosseto, Livorno, and Prato, that all boast churches and other monuments of great architectural and artistic value. The beauties of the Tuscan countryside are innumerable. Above all, its landscape: the typical, unique, gentle and warm Tuscan countryside.

permalink written by  smith on November 23, 2007 from Frankfurt, Germany
from the travel blog: italy
tagged Italy

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Good Stuff

Split, Croatia


I’m now writing this entry from my bus to Ancona, Italy. Lasts nights journey was long, tiresome and boring. We left around 9:00 and then had to watch the same stupid bus safety video three times; The first time in Hungarian, once in Italian and the third time in English.

The bus from Prague to Bratislava and then to Budapest was only seven hours and played movies through entire duration of the trip. Good movies too. Well they were in Czech but they had English subtitles. The bus to Bologna played “Wild Hogs” in Hungarian with no subtitles, so I just sat there listening to the gibberish spewing from Tim Allen’s mouth and laughing when everyone else did.

I really enjoyed Budapest. It was a beautiful city and I go back again if the opportunity came up. But it seems that the Hungarians’ taxes are wasted on employing 10,000 people doing the same job. Every time I entered the metro station I purchased a ticket for 270 Forint. Then you walk five feet to a machine that stamps your ticket or sometimes even punches a hole in it. Then you get on the metro. Next to every machine there would be anywhere from 2-10 guards next to each machine to make sure you don’t sneak by without paying. The guards can see you the entire time and you are no more than ten feet away from them at all times yet sometimes they still persisted to check my ticket anyways. Even though they watched me purchase it, then validate it. Once I had my metro ticket checked four times! One guard right after the other…
Metro tickets are a pain in the ass. That is why I’m still bitter about Prague. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time in Prague, it was a gorgeous city. On my last day there I was cutting it really close to catching my bus. I hopped on the tram and was about to hop off when a man with a badge approached me asking for my ticket. I presented it to him but he wasn’t satisfied. Apparently the tickets are only good for 72 minutes at a time. Meaning the one I had would have expired about 5 minutes before he approached me. He demanded 700 koruns or he would call the police. All I had on me was 150 koruns. I pleaded with him telling him I have no money, I’m going to miss my bus. He asked if I had a credit card and I said yes and he took me to an ATM. I told him I don’t have enough money and that I won’t be able to eat for several days, but he was a heartless bastard. Before I handed over the cash to him I called the police over and had them check his ID and badge to make sure he wasn’t trying to scam me. The police said it was real but I can tell this embarrassed him. Serves him right, I barley caught my bus.

Anyways, back to Budapest. I had arranged to couch surf with someone when I arrived but they bailed on me at the last minute. So I arrived at late at night and was about to go sleep in a park but of course I got off at the wrong metro stop. I was out of money and there was not an ATM in sight so I started to walk to the park when I came across this little hole in the wall hostel named “Home Made Hostel”. They didn’t have a bed available that night but Jimmy, the Dutch guy at the front desk/living room, said I could have the employee bed because he had to stay up and let people in all night anyways.

Home Made Hostel was one of the coolest hostels I’ve stayed at. It was basically a large flat or apartment. There were several rooms and a kitchen and kitchen. I don’t believe this place could host more than 20 people at a time. It was great, small hostels mean small groups of people. Right away I got along with this English guy named Robbie Lang who ended up in Budapest by himself as well. We are the same age and were very similar so we went for a night on the town. This particular night ended around 5:00am after we checked out some local pubs and then gorged ourselves on McDonalds on the way back. Ironically Robbie looks uncannily like my friend in San Antonio, Tyler Bravin. I showed Robbie a picture of Tyler and he freaked out. He immediately called his dad to make sure he didn’t have some long lost twin or anything.
Separated at birth? You be the judge.

Right: Robbie Lang Left: Tyler Bravin


(yes he's drinking beer through a straw, he lost a bet)


I explored the city for a bit my first day there. Later in the afternoon I went to go check out St. Steven’s Basilica. I was standing in the square in front of it when all of a sudden 200 people of all ages sprang out of every nook and cranny, every street, every building, little kids seemed to popping out of the cracks between the coble stones and before I knew it, I was in the center of a massive water fight. Water balloons whizzed overhead and people acted as though they were hit by a hand grenade. Everyone had water pistols and water guns of all sizes. One kid who couldn’t have been older than 10 had a portable pressure washer strapped to his back. Before I knew it I was soaked from head to toe. Luckily a girl gave me one of her back up water pistols so I could defend myself. Whenever we ran out of ammunition we sprang for the numerous fountains and reloaded. This free for all lasted for about an hour before the Police showed up. There were only 2 of them and they tried to assert their authority, but they just ended up getting drenched by countless water balloons and buckets of slimy green fountain water. Then just as quickly as it had started, everyone disappeared. All that was left were a few people staying back to help clean up the broken balloon bits. I was talking to a group of Hungarians afterwards and they said there is this organization that organizes this kind of stuff every month. For example, they told me that last month they had a massive pillow fight.


Later the Hungarians I was with took me on a tour of the city.

They next day was pretty lazy and I woke up late. I didn’t want to do anything too extravagant because I had to catch the bus later that night. So I decided to hit up the Hungarian spa. It was this huge castle like building where you go in and there are hot tubs from warm to boiling hot. There were even pools with water so cold that your bones started to ache after being in them for 10 seconds. Some corridors led to saunas and therapeutic steam rooms. Outside in the courtyard there were largest pools I’ve ever seen. One was a normal pool and the other was just as large but it was a huge communal hot tub. There were crowds of old men dawning the most revealing Speedos playing some of the most intense games of chess I’ve ever witnessed. I made a couple friends while I was there. One American girl who was couch surfing and backpacking around Europe by herself as well and 2 Australian sisters doing the same.

I caught the bus and 12 hours later I was in Bologna, Italy where I had to wait a couple hours for the next bus to Ancona. Italy is an interesting country so far. It is home to the world’s worst drivers. It is next to impossible to cross the street without killed. You may have the green light to walk across but Italian drivers won’t stop. Not because they want to hit you, but because they’re all too busy honking at gesturing wildly at each other. It’s the most contagious form of road rage I’ve ever witnessed so heaven forbid a car switch lanes and pull out in front of another Italian driver even though there is more than enough room. We’re driving on an open country road and I’ve heard the bus driver honk about 30 times already. Italian’s seem to have a very short temper. I saw a man walking earlier and I could have sworn he was about to explode. He had ones of those pulsing veins on his forehead that grew larger with each step. I was afraid to actually walk in to the station because I could see people at the check in counters flailing their arms and arguing with the people behind the desk and then the attendants replying in the same manner, so I just chilled outside in the terminal. Oh, and Italians have no concept of waiting in line. We took a 30-minute break and I was standing in line to get a sandwich and I was bumped all the way to the back of the line. It’s like being back at my school cafeteria. Everyone is constantly screwing each other over. One man even cut in front of me twice. It took so long that I was unable to get anything to eat because it was time for the bus to leave. Aside from all the hostility, the Italian is everything I imagined it to be. There are these green and yellow rolling hills littered with Tuscan and Mediterranean style homes all with they’re own vineyards. It’s just like the movies.



I think one of my favorite things about traveling so far is not knowing anything. I swapped books in a hostel in Amsterdam and picked up a book by Bill Bryson called Neither Here Nor There where Bryson retraces his steps through a previous European trip he took in 1972 except this time he writes about the differences. One quote in particular really caught my attention because it is very easy for me to identify with.


“When I told my friends in London that I was going to travel around Europe and write a book about it, they said, “Oh, you must speak a lot of languages.”
“Why, no” I would reply with a certain pride, “only English,” and they would look at me as if I were foolish or crazy. But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you only have the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross the street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”


I also love talking to people from the different countries and hearing they’re opinion on Americans. It dawned on me that most people back home have no idea what’s going on outside the country. In fact most people don’t even have a passport. It’s sad really. Everyone in Europe has a passport. It seems as if everyone likes to travel here. So I encourage anyone who actually reads this to go get a passport (if you don’t already have one) and go see the world.

I’m out for now, I’m about ten minutes from the bus station and by the time I get around to actually posting this blog on the internet I will be in Split, Croatia.
Peace,
Patrick

Quick update: The bus dropped me off in Ancona, well near Ancona. It seems that I was the only passenger to Ancona so the closest they took me was about 18 km outside the city. I wandered around a little bit and asked strangers if they spoke English or Spanish. I had no luck. I ended up interrupting my dad’s beauty sleep in Hawaii to see if he could get on the internet and try and help me find the nearest bus station, but I wasn’t sure where I was in the first place. I ended up going to finding a small office across the street and asking for directions but no one there was able to help me either. Then the rain came. I was in this parking lot off a highway huddled up under my umbrella when a man pulled up and offered a ride. I was very grateful, but he was heading the opposite direction. Several minutes later an Italian woman who looked like she should be on the cover of Vogue magazine pulled up and asked me if I was all right. She spoke a few words of English and Spanish so our conversation was a mixture of the three. Her boyfriend came to meet her there and he spoke very good English and they were very helpful. They said that they would love to give me a ride but they were heading the opposite direction.

I walked a few kilometers to the town of Callefearete and found a bus that would take me to the port in Ancona. I was snug as can be in the bus when I noticed everyone else was paying and somehow I managed to walk by the driver without paying him. I didn’t have (and still don’t) have any money on me and I was not prepared to pay him. He kept eyeing me to make sure I didn’t get off the bus, and I couldn’t afford another stupid fine like in Prague. So I offered my seat to this older woman and when she got off I dashed off the train with her. I didn’t even bother trying to get on another bus. I was in Ancona though, so I just walked to the port from there (a good 5km). As I got closer there were two ports about 1 km apart. I obviously looked like I didn’t know what to do, and southern Italy is that last place you want to look like a helpless tourist. Then this shady looking fellow approached me. He looked like a gypsy so I started clenching my pockets. He had this big goofy grin on his face when he said, “Eh boi!” I was expecting him to beg for money but he didn’t. “You lookin’ for la fiera righ? It dat one.” He turned out to be a really nice guy and we shook hands and went our separate ways. So the moral of this update is that you just can’t judge a book by its cover. Italians aren’t as ruthless as I portrayed them to be earlier. Except one thing’s for certain, they still don’t know what the hell a line is.

So now I’m on the ferry to Split, which I’ll arrive to at 6:00 in the morning. I took a couple pictures but the weather was bad.



permalink written by  pathaley on July 22, 2008 from Split, Croatia
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
tagged Italy and Croatia

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All about Trove

Petroio, Italy


Trove (Tro-vay) is a 600 or so year old Tuscan farm owned by Ugo and Barbara Mariotti. It sits between the towns of Castelmuzio
and Petroio in the Trequanda district of Tuscany, Italy. They've owned the place for 35 years, though for a long while their time was split between Italy and Australia.

Being so old, the house obviously wasn't originally equipped with pluming or electricity. They've added electricity via cabels and extension cords, and have a line to the city water which is available through the 2 taps in the house; the one upstairs by the kitchen sink and the one downstairs by our room. That's it for running water in the house,our in room plumbing is a pitcher and washbasin.

We've already shown you the shower but I'm sure your just dying to see the toilet...

You do your business in the bucket seat or hole if you prefer, then sprinkle saw dust when your done.

Most Americans would be rather intimidated by this and I cant claim exemption from that, however its really not bad. If it meant having a house like this I'd happily live with a saw-dust toilet the rest of my life :P

Aside from Ugo and Barbara, the house has four other official residents. Billy and Mary Moon the two lovable pups, and the two cats which have names that never get used so I don't know them. They're lovingly referred to as the Damn Ginger Cat and Fluffy.

Mary Moon is neurotically afraid of new people. However, Ugo and Barbara had to leave for a few days soon after we arrived and we were the only source of food and cuddles. Needless to say, she warmed up to us pretty fast. Billy and Ginger are the two most inclined to seek out human companionship and it didn't take long before Ginger was sleeping between James and I on the bed, and Billy had moved his afternoon siesta spot from the workshop area under the house to the cool tiles of the floor in our room. Fluffy spends all day doing god knows what, though we have a sneaky suspicion she might be responsible for this rare breed of tail-less lizards in and around Trove. They look a lot like their more plentiful cousins...only well tail-less.

Come dusk though you'll see her trotting up the lane. At first shes wary of you, but as soon as shes feels your hands on her, shes in your lap nudging every appendage you have for cuddles and drooling on you. Seriously, the cat has drooling problem. But shhhhh, I never told you that...don't want her to be self conscious or anything ;)

Trove has a decent amount of land, boasting its own vineyard and olive groves in addition to several fields for crops and the houses veggi garden.



And prums, lots and lots of prums. Yes, I said prums, NOT plums. It's best you don't ask.

The other day after attending a lunch hosted by the local women (This local festivity brought to you by the communist era in Italy), we were treated with the first actual thunderstorm we've experienced since leaving home. I've missed texas storms, the lightning and thunder.


For more pictures go to our pictures section, scroll to the bottom and click on the tags Tuscany or Trove. The city tags arnt working at the moment so clicking on the city wouldnt work so well :P

The next day we headed to Sienna to go to THE Palio, which i'll tell you all about soon :)

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on August 17, 2008 from Petroio, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Italy, Tuscany and Trove

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The Palio

Siena, Italy


The Palio

If like me, you have no clue what this is, its just one of the biggest yearly horse races in Italy. An unbelievable amount of tradition and pomp go into making this race such a spectacle. It starts from the moment your born if your family belongs to one of the contradas. And preparations for race day start weeks before, culminating in all day festivities on the day of the Palio.

We left the house around 8am to head to Sienna so we could secure parking and see all the race preparations. Barbara took us all around Sienna showing us where all the major landmarks and contradas were so we could watch the groups getting ready for the race. Before the race the contradas get their parade horse and members all decked out in medieval costumes...im assuming its the same traditional garb their contradas actually wore in the middle ages.


Afterwards they parade to the contradas home chapel to have their jockey and race horse blessed.

Then all the contradas join together in the streets, drummers playing, flags being tossed and all the members crowding behind their group.

This is not something done for tourists,this isnt still put on merely for the sake of amusement and history. The Siennese live and breath for the palio, spend untold hours and resources outfitting their group and hosting banquets and events throughout the year. That said, they reeaaaaalllllly get into it, and once things start getting under way it gets crazy in the square. Wayyyy more people then is probably safe squeeze into the square before its sealed off for the parade and finally the race horses to enter.


After the horses get lined up, which is no small feat since they use a rope starting line and no barricades, and several false starts, the race is under way. The course is pretty treacherous for a horse and several usually stumble or fall, the one James was routing for lost its jockey on the first loop. Someone wins but you usually cant tell who because you cant really see the track through all the people, so you head to the closest bar to watch the replay on TV. The winning contrada parades around town getting piss drunk all night and everyone else being tired as hell goes home.

Oh and the prize for winning....

That and bragging rights. Each contrada has a museum to house all the Palios its won. Heres a link i found to a site which has an archive of all the palio flags back to the 1600's, each desgined by a diffrent local artist.
http://www.ilpalio.org/drappelloni.htm

Peace yall ;)

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on August 22, 2008 from Siena, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Siena, Italy, Tuscany and ThePalio

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Fun Times at Trove

Petroio, Italy


The past few weeks have passed by in a blaze of , well blazes for one. Barbara decided that the Calabroni (aka big fucking hornets that are creepily smart) had lived in the big stump by the house for too long and set the whole thing ablaze. It smoldered throughout the day, and come evening it was still going. To attempt and get water into the centre of the stump the guys tried standing it up and it proceeded to roll down the hill taking out several small trees and landing just a few feet away from the field of dried grass. For obvious reasons this wasn't a good home for the giant flaming log. Never fear, Barbara has a big tractor :P Everyone pitched in to get it back up the hill and onto the gravel drive in a position where it could be properly hosed before we all turned in for the night.


James unearthed a nest of baby lizards in the process of hatching too, arnt they cuties?

A day or two later there was a wine tasting in Montepulciano of local wines. Local wines here means the rather famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano., yummm.


We met two friends of theirs in Montepulciano, Leslie (who is their colleague as well) and Karla (who also does tours back home in Czechoslovakia), and had a lovely evening sipping good wine. On the way home we saw this little cutie hanging out by the road...

That weekend Leslie and Karla came to stay at Trove and Saturday Ugo took us on a little sightseeing day trip. One of our first stops of the day was at the monastery where some of the movie The English Patient was filmed. It boasted some wonderful frescos and views of the surrounding countryside.




After leaving we drove through the countryside for a bit, just enjoying the stunning senary.

Ugo suggested we go to the little village of Lucignano d'Asso, so we could take a walk through it. Honestly I think he just wanted an excuse to visit the little grocery/deli that was there. He orded us a bottle of wine and we thought some light nibbles of cheese and what have you. We got a bit more then we anticipated but out of courtesy to the hostess couldn't do anything but eat the juicy fresh cantaloup, tantalizing slices of local dried meats, and cheeses. The meats we superb, I think Beth might have cried tears of joy had she seen those plates coming out ;)

Eventually we ended up at the hot springs on the side of Mont Amiata. We swam in a modern swimming pool which has several sections of varying size and temperatures, all fed by thermal waters heated by the volcanic activity of Mont Amiata.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love bathing in really hot water? Like hot to the point it chases James out of the shower. I could really do with a hotspring in my backyard...would certainly lower our electricity and water bills :P Of course I would also need a backyard again to have a hot spring in it.

We also visited one of my new favorite places again, the garden Bosco dela Ragnaia. This time it was a whole diffrent experiance having Ugo there to play the guide and tell is the meanining of all the words inscribed around the place. I swear this guy reads Conversations With God, and must have a lusty obsesion with good philosiphy.

We were luck enough to meet the creator, and he is the most unassuming guy youd ever meet. There he was just working away on a flower bed in his beat up denim and floppy wide brim hat, humility and warmth eminating from every gesture. He stopped his work long enough to have a quick chat and then politly excused himself and got back to it, he is obviously not a big socializer but still makes you feel welcome.

It's finally cooling off a bit and we've enjoyed several dinners outdoors in one of the courtyards. Nice breeze, good vino, good company...


I think I might have mentioned this before, but just in case....

I DONT EVER WANT TO LEAVE!

Love you all!

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on September 4, 2008 from Petroio, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged HotSprings, Italy, Tuscany, Petroio and Pienza

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Cellar Slave

Petroio, Italy


Many of you have been wondering what the hell I've been up too here in the wilds of Tuscany. Vino baby, god I love this stuff, rather surprisingly so considering my original antipathy for everything related to wine.

I've been cleaning out the Mariotties cellar, bottling previous vintages, all in preparation for this years harvest which is just around the corner.

It starts by cleaning out the bottles, anything can effect the taste of wine, and the smallest speck of god knows what can turn a whole demijohn of loveliness into vinegar before you could shout Baccus!


I washed all the bottles, and stripped the labels off of many using industrial soda (recycle people!), before drying and crating them to be filled.

Next up you grab a big demijohn from the cellar floor and put it up an the stand. Then you un cork it and suck the oil off the top to see what you have underneath. You top off the wine with oil for preservation reasons. Providing the vino has survived the ageing process your then ready to bottle.

Next you fill up various sizes of your sparkling bottles and then move them over to the 'corker'. Pop a cork in, slap a label on them and then stick them on the shelves.

In the end you wind up with something looking a lot like this.


Things here at Trove are, well, rural. They do not sell any wine commercially, the vines and cellar merely support the Mariottie's yearly Vino needs. Yes. Tuscan families DO need their own vineyard and cellar to provide the years wine... God, can I have a villa in Tuscany, pleaaaaase?!?!?!?!


Don't worry, they dont have to hang out in the dark cellar for very long. The 2007 red is my particular favourite. In the states Id never touch reds, here id plug it into an IV if only my veins had taste buds.

Disclaimer for the Moms reading this:

Nope I'm not an alcoholic. In Italy, it is very shameful to be drunk. A mentality I quite agree with, I hate bring drunk and haven't been in a very very long time. Wine, is just....life... here.

Two weeks and counting until the harvest!! I plan to blog the whole process here at Trove so stay tuned ;)


Peace ya'll,
Amanda

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on September 17, 2008 from Petroio, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Italy, Trove, Petroio and WineCellar

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Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore, Italy


Before leaving Austin we went to the Art City Austin show and one of the exhibitors had a picture on display of an unbelievably picturesque village clinging to the coast of Italy, well we decided we we're going to go there right on the spot, and this week we did.

We had been working hard on the farm for several weeks and our hosts thinking it was high time we had a break lovingly kicked us out for a few days. Four train connections later we we're in La Spezia and caught a bus from there to the hamlet of Biassa. Biassa is perched on opposite side of the hills from Cinque Terre and many of the National Parks hiking trails start in or pass through Biassa.

The first day there we wanted to take it kinda easy and get our bearings, so we opted for a short hike just over the hill to to first town in Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore.

Five hours and 15-20km later we decided the trail map would have been a good idea, but had a good time none the less. We passed a few bars a long the trail and grabbed some fruit and bread in a small village along the way, so we didnt fret about not being where we wanted to be and enjoyed the amazing views.


Midafternoon we finally arrived in Riomaggiore and had what was probably the crappiest meal we've had while travelling, but the gelato made up for it. We wandered down to the water and found a sunny rock to lay on and just baked for awhile in the warm sun while our feet dangled in the cool waters.



Being thoroughly exhausted we didn't do much the rest of that day and went back to Biassa for an excellent dinner at the only proper restaurant in the town. Butter and sage became my new favourite pasta sauce that night. Ohm, nom, nom, nom.

Day two we took the bus. We also bought a day pass for the ferries that run to each of the towns, and went to the second town in Cinque Terra for breakfast. It would have been awesome but they were outa waffles, much suck. After breakfast we opted for more hiking, sane choice...nahhhh, and hiked along the cost from Manarola to Corniglia.

The trail literally clings to the cliffs and every step of the way your a banister away from the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean, which happen to be a long way down.

On the other side of the trail you could see the odd house or rows and rows of vines. Nope, there are no roads of any sort going to these peoples houses. Only the occasional small rail car. The must have legs of iron...

When we got to Corniglia we were faced with the fun prospect of climbing 382 stairs, just to reach the town. Who knows how many were in the town its self. There was a nice suprise waiting for us though when we got to the top, it came in the form of stuffed mussels and pesto spaghetti,mmmmm. We sat at a table up against the railing dividing the restaurant from the hill we had just climbed. Olive trees acted as the ceiling and wide open views of the Mediterranean provided the walls.

We strolled through the town after lunch, just enjoying the sites.

Eventually we caught the train to the next town, Vernazza, to catch the ferry from there to the last town in Cinque Terre, Monterosso. After a failed hunt for lemon gelato we caught the last ferry back to the first town, which stopped in each of the towns with a harbor along Cinque Terre. We got to enjoy the views of each town from the sea and I was able to snap some nice shots of each town.

Our trip to Cinque Terre could be described as a visual assault of the natural persuasion, the 400 or so photos I've had to sort through the past few days is testament to the beauty of this place.

Tomorrow we start the harvest!!!!!!

Love you all!

P.S. We got your postcard today Savannah!! We'll try to call you soon, Hugs and Kissies :)


permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on September 30, 2008 from Riomaggiore, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Italy and CinqueTerre

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Day Trippin

Radicofani, Italy


After staring at this mountain for the past two and a half months, when James and I got permission to take the car out for a day trip to Mont Amiata we went. Before heading up Mont Amiata though James wanted to go investigate a near by fortress. He has a little boys fanaticism when it comes towers, gun turrets, and such.

From the road the place looks pretty damn impressive. Can you imagine being the invading army? Having marched hundreds of miles you get here and realize not only do you have to fight these guys you have to run up that hill to do it while they're firing unfriendly implements of war at you. “Naw I'll pass on this one Sarg....”

We found or own hostile force on the way up, but he fled at the sight of our mighty siege weapon aka the 4wd suzuki.

Being the end of the tourist season the place was practically deserted and we sat on a bench and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the middle of an ancient fortress overlooking all of Tuscany. And we found shrooms, yes those kind of shrooms. No, we didnt eat them.

After lunch we went and explored the fortress proper and climbed up the big tower which has been turned into a museum of sorts. Heres something I bet you didnt know about Tuscany, there are a LOT of ants here. Not the mean demon spawn ants we have back home mind you, just the happy eat everything in sight sort. Anyhow, its matting season for the ants. So all the winged ones have taken to the air, at the same time, and there are millions of them. Apparently the party invite said the dance was on top of of the tower, because the entire way up we passed the dead and dying ants twitching on the stairs. I naïvely figured they must of flown up from the door below but was relieved of that notion as soon as we stepped out on top of the tower. A mass of flying and dying ants filled the air and covered every horizontal surface of the ramparts. Yum...

Having had our fill of flying insects going places they shouldn't we decided to head down and make our way up Mont Amiata.

The drive up to the top was in my opinion almost the best part of the trip. The bosco were breathtaking. A veritable fairyland.

At every bend I was waiting for the gnome to climb out from under his mushroom and take my into a barrow to meet the King and Queen of the Sidhe. Ok not really, I didn't eat those mushrooms remember. But still that place was magical.


Most of you i'm a bit of a nature nut, but perhaps not to the extent I really am. I don't need religion, philosophical self help books, Conversations With God even; no Tolle, no string theory, or pagan rituals. I need trees, trees to climb in, big grey rocks to climb over, moss to run my hands through, tempestuous wind blowing through my hair, I need sunshine, and thunderstorms, and babling brooks.

Mont Amita had it all, yes I climbed trees and yes I hugged the mossy rock. Cant help it, it was too cuddly. Save me? I might turn into the crazy lady in the woods who talks to the animals and has a pet name for every tree. There are ski lodges for rent on Amiata, perhaps I could just play the crazy lady in the woods for a few weeks outa the year :P

It was a good day, a little known part of Tuscany that might have been my favourite.



permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on October 18, 2008 from Radicofani, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Italy, Tuscany, MontAmiata and Radicofani

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In Fair Verona

Verona, Italy


The train arrived into Verona a couple of hours after dawn into a misty and damp climate. Whilst I was still in the station it started to rain heavily, and so I settled into a cafe and waited - thankfully this station was mildly better equiped than the last.

I eventually resolved to make my way across town, sure that the rain was here to stay. I had, a few days ago, realised that the hotel (miraculously cheap for a double ensuite with balcony), was quite a way out of town. I also knew that the bus stop was called 'Industrie Veronisi', which hardly brought to mind pictures of quaint Italian streets and churches. I got on what I knew was the right bus, and looked out for my stop; however, we seemed to be getting further and further from the centre and eventually hit a dual carriageway - I was sure this could not be right. Getting off in a small village where the locals gave me some strange looks, I intended to board the return bus which was due in several minutes. Before this came, however, a coach pulled up and admitted me. Inside were several women, mostly octogenarian or above; nobody asked me to buy a ticket or indeed took any notice of me at all as I walked to the back of the coach. As I got off a while later, again in the centre of Verona, I couldn't help but think: had I just blagged a ride on a day trip for the elderly?

I gave in and took a taxi to the hotel, which confirmed my fears: it really was that far out. Nestled between factories and warehouses, it was nevertheless comfortable and hospitable. Dumping my stuff, I returned on the next bus, a trip of some 20 minutes or so. I didn't intend to stay long as the rain was now coming in heavy bursts, but my plans were thwarted as I totally lost my orientation and ended up walking the length of the town three or four times. Now wet through, I found a taxi again and asked to go to the hotel; however, the traffic was now so heavy that I knew I wouldn't have enough money. I asked him to take me to the station. There I waited for an hour for a supposedly half-hourly bus, boarded it, and again eventually had the feeling of having gone way too far. I got off, and took the next bus back, but then thought I had gone too far back. Now cold, wet, and walking around in complete darkness at the side of a perilously close dual carriageway, I asked for directions. 'Go straight on' said a man in a supermarket. I did, and found myself on a bridge beyond which I dared not go as it would involve walking across four or five lanes of heavy traffic. I returned, and luckily retained the presence of mind to look up a taxi on the internet on my phone. I got back to the hotel at 9pm, having left central Verona at 5, and having spent at least 50 euros on transport for the day.

This may not instill much confidence that I know what I am doing or will be safe for the next two months. However, rest assured that the remainder of my stay in Verona passed without incident. My second day was fantastically hot, and I spent the day reading in cafes and parks, and walking through the ancient streets which I had now located. Verona truly is a beautiful city, full of the Italian charm of Florence and Venice, but without the self-consciousness of too much tourism. The main square and the amphitheatre are both impressive, as are sections of the wall and many little churches dotted across town. I was sad to leave, but the weather on the third day was miserable again and so I headed south.

permalink written by  BenWH on April 2, 2009 from Verona, Italy
from the travel blog: Gap Year Odyssey
tagged Italy

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