Tag Archives: Rome

Tuscany

We woke up very early on the morning that we were leaving Rome, so decided to wander around the local streets. There seemed to be a busy buzz on one corner… And we had stumbled on the amazing Mercato Trionfale, the largest fresh market in Rome busy stocking up for the day’s trade.

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We were definitely a curiousity – tourists up early! Many stall holders gave us tastes…warm breads, pickles, cheeses, ham off the bone, gorgeous berries and pears. And the seafood section was pretty astounding – check out the eels and swordfish!

Sadly our booked transfer to the train station was a no-show, so we did a last minute dash up several flights of steps to find a taxi rank. Naturally he was a ‘pronto’ driver so we just caught our train to Firenze (Florence) and sat back to soak in the scenery at varying degrees of warp speed! Ian still feels a little uncomfortable travelling at 300kms per hour on the ground…

We are in Florence for 4 days – beautiful, old and stylish. Our beautiful apartment in via Rosina is an ideal location, walking distance to all the major places we want to visit and 10 mins from the train station. Laura, the owner, enjoys making tourists welcome and gave us many helpful ideas and maps.

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Off we went on a HUGE day out exploring a little of Tuscany with Albatravel. It is chocolate-box pretty, especially with a tinge of early autumn colour on the trees. First stop was Monteriggioni…..

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In Siena we walked down very steep beautiful medieval streets past an array of beautiful palaces, the cathedral and hundreds of shops to the Piazza del Campo. This is the location for the crazy bareback Palio horse race – you’ve probably seen it on TV – let’s just say the rivalries are deep and emotions run high! We wandered off and found a local spot where we had the special of the day – mackerel and vegetables, along with a (of course) vino bianco and a basket of bread and olive oil. Message to self – do not rely on memory! Write down the name and location of good places to eat – especially when they don’t do cards, Facebook etc because they don’t need to!

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San Gimignano is a tiny medieval town (and a world heritage site) with interesting buildings and shops. The old city is surrounded by huge walls built in the 13th century, although the Etruscans settled there in the 3rd century. The antiquity is  quite overwhelming, and then we remember that Australia was settled 40,000 years ago and that puts it all in perspective!

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We ended at the Tenuta Torciano Vineyard, privately owned since 1720. The peppered olive oil was deluxe, also enjoyed a luscious balsamic vinegar and then there were the wines. Well, some were yummy, and some just OK, and wow, do they have drinking rules!  Just don’t think that drinking un-chilled white wine in our West Australian climate is going to catch on any time soon.

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We think the photo above shows us in our perfect natural environment, and hope that these other photos capture the beauty of the vineyards, olive groves, castles and farmhouses we have seen. More to come soon on our visit to the Uffizi Gallery and our Tuscan cooking class!

Italy…

We have been planning (and saving for!) our Mediterranean holiday for 18 months.

First off we spend 9 days exploring some of Italy, then we cruise around the Mediterranean from Venice, finishing with several days in Barcelona.
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Enjoying every moment of our time in Italy so far. We won’t bore you with travel details from our home in Perth [the most isolated capital city in the world apparently] to Rome – let’s just say “time passed”…
Yes, we could have used public transport to get to our apartment one block back from the Vatican City but it was so welcoming to find our ‘driver’ (booked weeks before) actually waiting for us. This is a top service offered by even small scale accommodation.
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Ginny reckons Rome looks and feels pretty much the same as her last visit 35 years ago – it’s grungy,  graffiti-ised to the max and the traffic is insane …. But of course it is all so fascinating that we just ignored all that and relished the architecture, the antiquity and the statues on every corner.
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We are lucky to have two opportunities to enjoy the ‘Eternal City’ as we will return during our cruise, so joined the hop on, hop off bus. Yes, we know that it’s a ‘touristy’ trip in any city, but it’s also a good way to find your bearings and earmark places to explore further… Which we did!
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Then La Bella Roma turned on the sprinklers for us (a.k.a. A beaut thunderstorm!) and out of the woodwork came touts to sell brollies and ponchos. Us two wet people decided to be semi-sensible and return to our apartment to change clothes before our beautiful afternoon walking tour with Viator.
This was a great way to see some of the beautiful squares, monuments, fountains and artwork. First stop, the Pantheon…
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It was also a good reminder of how the ancient cobblestones look absolutely fabulous but play havoc on your feet and legs – thank goodness for a rest and a refreshing gelato!
Fortunately we didn’t have to park… It’s a nightmare! But amusing, and we fell in love with the tiny cars that can – and do – park anywhere!
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Meal of the trip so far was at La Locanda di Pietro – a stunning combination of finely sliced medium rare beef, pear slivers and pecorino to which we added drops of olive oil and a luscious balsamic vinegar. OMG.
By the end of two days we had walked many miles and seen some astonishing sights – some that just give us so much joy and some that will make us sad for the rest of our lives. Mark Twain called Rome “a museum of magnificence and misery” – a great description.
Ciao for now!