Tag Archives: Italy

TOP 100’s


There have suddenly appeared many top 100 lists on facebook – places we’ve been, what we’ve eaten, etc.  Instead of a list of where people have been, how about everyone’s TOP FIVE FAVORITE PLACES?  Mine are:

VENICE   – Awesome water reflections and the very colorful island of Burano


ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH   where hiking The Narrows was one of the most exciting adventures ever!


BARCELONA – art everywhere and the BEST FOOD!!!


CAPRI – Complete beauty


CINQUE TERRE, ITALY – intense hiking between the towns


Yes, I see that 3 of my top 5 are in Italy!  I also love Rocky Mountain National Park, Durango (and all of Colorado for that matter), Yosemite, Boston, northern California, New Orleans, Yellowstone, Sedona.  I could go on and on…



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More photos from Italy, now one of my favorite places on earth!

Towers of San Gimignano

Towers of San Gimignano, one of the Tuscan Hill Towns.  Photo by Shelley.  I have read that there used to be 70 towers in San Gimignano which were used for protection from invading armies.

Tuscany landscape from San Gimignano

Here’s a look at the Tuscany landscape from San Gimignano.  Photo by Shelley.

Leonie 3

Here’s our new friend from Australia.  We met Leonie at the bus station and spent a delightful afternoon in San Gimignano with her.  This photo is our “proof” that we really did climb that tower!

Tuscany 1

Tuscany.  Photo by Wayne.

Tuscany 2

Tuscany.  Photo by Wayne.

Next time I go to Italy, I plan to do much more in-depth exploring of Tuscany – so beautiful, so peaceful.

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More photos from Italy – these are from Cinque Terre, a steep and rugged portion of the Italian Riviera comprised of five villages, Monterossa, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomagiorre.  The coastline here is absolutely gorgeous, and you can take the train from one village to the next or you can hike the trails.  We love hiking so there was no question about our mode of transport.  We had read that the hike from Monterossa to Vernazza can be strenuous, and it was – maybe more strenuous than the hiking we did last year at Zion and Bryce Canyon, Utah.  After being revived by lunch in Vernazza, we decided to do the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia.  This was supposed to be less strenuous and it was, but not by much!  All the hiking  was of course worth the effort because we were rewarded with such stunning views.  Photographs can’t really capture the true grandeur, but here are a few anyway…

Vernazza 1view from the trail between Monterossa and Vernazza, photo by Wayne

Vernazza 2view from the trail between Monterossa and Vernazza, photo by Wayne

Steps 1a small fraction of the steps we climbed, photo by Shelley Brucar.  Italy is quite hilly, and although I know we must have been going downhill sometimes, it seemed like we were always going UPHILL!  As a result, I am in better shape that I was before the trip.  I have almost doubled my time on the stairmaster – in spite of all the pasta, wine and gelato – which are too wonderful for words!  

Vernazza from above 1Vernazza from above, photo by Shelley Brucar

Vernazza from above 2Vernazza from above, photo by Shelley Brucar

I really love Cinque Terre and  definitely want to go back there to do more hiking.  We also had planned to do a boat trip in PortoVenere, but it got cancelled due to rain, and we were leaving for Sorrento the next day.  So we must return to do that as well.

We stayed in Levanto, which I think is a good base for exploring this area.  It is the town just north of Monterossa, easy to get to by train, very cute and charming, and lots of good food.  One recommendation for dinner is Ristorante Da Rino, wonderful food and very nice owner who welcomed us back the second time we ate there with smiles and after-dinner linomcello, a tasty discovery.

The topic of dinner brings me to one of my observations about Italy that actually relates to stress management.  Meals in Italy are obviously meant to be SAVORED, not rushed through as is often the case in the US.  You choose as many courses as you want from several options: antipasto, zuppe (soup), primi piatti (pasta), secondi piatti (entree), insalata (salad), dolce (dessert), and of course finishing with cappaccino.  And vino – really good vino – accompanies every meal.  The expectation is that, once seated for dinner,  you will be there all night, no pressure to turn over tables as we are used to in America.  Servers take your order, deliver the food (one slow course at a time), then leave you alone to enjoy your meal and your company.  You don’t get your bill until you ask for it (il conto, per favore).  Of course Italian food deserves savoring! And that’s true of much American food as well.

Try eating your next meal, whether out or at home, more slowly.  Really taste what you’re eating and enjoy every bite – time to give up the fast-food-in-the-car habit!


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Just returned from Italy where we spent time in Florence, Sorrento and Cinque Terre.  What a beautiful country!   I get inspiration from beautiful scenery, and here are some  photos from Florence:

Florence 1View from Pazzale Michelangelo, photo by Wayne

Florence 2 (2)View from Pazzale Michelangelo, photo by Wayne

Florence 3at the Arno, photo by Wayne

Florence 4at the Arno, photo by Wayne

Arno Reflections 1Arno reflections, photo by Shelley Brucar

Arno Reflections 2Arno reflections, photo by Shelley Brucar

Arno GrafittiGrafitti everywhere!   Photo by Shelley Brucar

Duomo 1Duomo, photo by Shelley Brucar

David copyDavid copy, photo by Shelley Brucar.  You find copies of David all over Florence.  The original is at Galleria Academia where the lives are quite long if you don’t make an advance reseervation.

Tourist CrowdTourists, photo by Shelley Brucar.  Downtown Florence is overrun with tourists and very crowded.  South of the Arno is residential and much more quiet and serene.

PadlocksPadlocks,  photo by Shelley Brucar.  This is an interesting tradition in Italy, for which I have found 2 meanings.  I believe, originally, closing a padlock and throwing the key into the river was a popular tradition followed by militarymen who had completed their compulsory service.  Now however, couples write their names on padlocks, attach them to a guard rail, and throw the keys into the sea, symbolizing love forever.

Italy offers everything from big city to calm and beautiful country.  More photos from Cinque Terre,  Sorrento, Capri, Pompei and Amalfi Coast to follow.

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