Classic Italy WeEK 2

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Good Morning from our window!
Breakfast! Loved the juice nets!

Ancient Assisi

Pilgrims have been coming to Assisi since the 13th century to be close to St. Francis of Assisi, who was born and buried here, but you don’t have to be religious to enjoy the beauty of this postcard-perfect town. Framed by the long, undulating hills of Umbria and the forests of Monte Subasio, Assisi is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the world and one of Italy’s most spell-binding gems.

Perched on a hill top over looking the green hills of Umbria
Hills of Umbria
Taken from the church at top

Construction on the Basilica of St Francis was started immediately after St. Francis’ death in 1228 and it was officially completed after the addition of the upper church in 1253. It is divided into the upper church and the lower church, and regardless of which one you’re in, you’re looking at incredible frescoes. St Francis is buried in a room, tons of people go down the steps and walk around his crypt, kissing it, praying, worshiping it. Pictures are not permitted inside.

St Francis Birthplace
Stroll through town
Mama Mia the stairs!
Always eating!
Flowers are everywhere!

In 1997 a An earthquake hit Italy in this region. The biggest quake, measured at 5.7 initially but later revised upwards to 6.1, With tragic consequences, it occurred at 11.43am, just as a party of Franciscan monks, journalists, town officials and experts from the Ministry of Culture had decided to venture inside the basilica to inspect the damage.

It is thought that between 20 and 30 people were inside the Upper Church when the shaking began, caused the vaulted ceiling to collapse, bringing down sections of Giotto’s fresco cycle depicting the Life of Saint Francis.

Most of them were able to escape by running away as the ceiling began to fall but 10 were trapped under the rubble for many hours. Six were pulled out alive but rescuers found that two of the friars and two of the government experts had been killed.

We sat in those pews looking up at repaired ceiling. Can’t even tell!
Golda, what are these flowers? Very fragrant.
Wine Tasting and dinner tonight at the hotel

How we were entertained after dinner. Wondering if this is an after dinner mint

Sunday, May 25, 2019

128 miles today, good day to rain I guess.

This morning we headed into Tuscany, cloudy and rain all day, so the pictures will not show what we could’ve seen, Rolling hills of vineyards, olive trees, mountain top villages and higher mountains in background. It’s just beautiful.

Got from Internet to show!
Looked just like this!

We stopped at a “farm” for lunch, but it was a resort, for weddings and such. It’s been in a family for many years, now the third generation is running it.


Nice Little Place

Arrived at our hotel for one night in the seaside town of Viareggio. It’s kinda like a small Miami with mountains in the background.

Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte

Waiting for dinner, It was WONDERFUL!

Praying for good weather tomorrow...... Cinque Terra!!

Some of our group... will get rest later, poor WiFi last two nights!

This is Nancie Merlino from Massachusetts. Well traveled!

Paul and Maggie Davis, Ohio

David and Nancy Bradley, Georgia. Moved near Athens because they’re such bulldogs fans!

Rick and Maria Napier, Naples, Florida

TJ and Cindy Bauer from Ball Ground, Georgia (near Atlanta)

Gary and Patty Minner, Crossville, TN

Francis and Dotty Stewart, Churchville, Maryland

Joel and Adelyn Belsky

Jeff and Cindy Kuhn, Dover, PA

Alan and Joyce Zinnemann, Hanover, PA

Randal and Cynthia O’Neil, Chester, NJ

Lew and Cynthia Schumann, Naples, Fla
Anna Maki Cardoso, Tour Director

Monday, May 27, 2019

Cinque Terra!!!! (Meaning 5 Towns). These 5 quaint picturesque villages are along the rocky coast of Northwest Italy west of Florence. The Cinque Terre area is a popular tourist destination. Over the centuries, people have built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages and cars cannot reach them from the outside.

We boarded a private boat! And cruised the sea looking at all villages, Some have docking places, some do not. The boat let us out at Vernazza. We walked up and down the streets and had lunch at a seaside restarant. Rode the train back to out bus, then to Florence

Getting Ready to Board Boat

Armani’s yacht, the black one

See the vineyards on the hillside, These people have to be fit! Supplies are carried in by foot! Can’t imagine! Saw an older man carrying 2 cases of wine, one on shoulder and one under his other arm, up many stairs, never slowed down or seemed to struggle! We Americans are so unfit!

Our boat

Fun Times at Cinque Terra

After a seaside lunch, boarded train to meet our bus for hour half ride to Florence!

Our Hotel for 3 Nights. Hotel Brunelleschi Is one of the oldest buildings for a hotel in Florence. But, Untra Modern Inside. It has so many levels, elevators and stairs, navigating inside is a task, in fact they had staff stationed at intersections showing us to our rooms. Maybe in 3 nights we can find the front desk and front door😂😂

CBS SUNDAY MORNING aired a special on Florence. Definitely great episode of what we saw and what we missed in Italy. look on YouTube for 17 or 18 segments for entire show. You will see our professor who gave our history lecture.

Our restaurant at 7

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Our Hotel (blue dot) right in middle of everything!


Great History Lesson! Wish she had been my teacher!
We passed all the lines and got inside in about 30 min compared to hours!

Few statues are as enduring and iconic as Michelangelo's David. When u first see him, all sort of emotions! Awe, wow, goosebumps, hard to describe. David is 17 feet tall and weighs 6 tons. Was carved from a single discarded block of white marble from the Carrara Marble Mines that he picked out between 1501- 1504 Michelangelo started the work when he was just 26 years old!

The sling on his left shoulder and tree trunk behind his right leg were covered with gold leaf? Being outdoors in Piazza della Signoria in the elements for over 400 years washed the gold leaf away. It was originally carved to stand above the people in the biggest church in Florence, but was moved. That’s the reason his hand is disproportionately larger for the body. Michelangelo wanted people to see the detail from a distance.

Detail is amazing. Out of stone!
Heart shaped Pupils
Got this pic to show you how big he is.
Some of the sites
Door knobs in middle of doors here
Our Room Door
Look what I found!

Our hotel we learned this morning is made use of 4 towers, oldest in city. It’s truly unique.

One of my favs


The Florentine steak is a spectacular cut of meat that comes from a special Tuscan breed of cattle called Chianina. Butchers hang the whole loin for 15-21 days in a cool, dry environment to cure it. Then, they take the porterhouse cut between the sirloin and tenderloin, including the T-bone. The steaks range from 1.5 – 2.5 inches thick, making them between 1.5 to 4 pounds of meat per steak! Probably enough to feed two or more people. I watched a couple eat one of these steaks last time I was here with the Italy girls trip in 2015. Ever since then I’ve wanted Dale and me to have one. So tonight we went to the same restaurant I saw that meal!

here it is

The most flavorful steaks are charcoal broiled over hot coals. The chef sets the steak on the fire on its bone end first to raise the internal temperature before broiling. After about 15 minutes, the chef grills the steak for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, only turning it once. Before serving, the steak rests in a warm oven for 10-15 minutes. The result is a juicy, rare steak with a gorgeous outer sear.

It was soooooo good!
Fun times

Goodnight! Another exciting day tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

We visited the Uffizi Museum this AM. Originally a suite of offices, it was first used to display the Medici family private art treasures in 1581, thereby making it the oldest art gallery in the world. We saw works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael.

Our Guide, Dale being a good student!

Not wall paper!! Amazing the decorations, what it took to complete.

Madonna and Child, Filipe Lippi, interesting because he was a Monk, but this is the face of his mistress and their children.

Birth Of Venus, Botticellii

Adoration of the Magi, Unfinished painting by da Vinci

Baptism of Christ by da Vinci

Primavera, Botticelli

Holy Family by Michelangelo

Very interesting, but very crowded. Was glad to get out into the cool air and sunshine!! Walked around a bit and had a salad and pizza at a sidewalk cafe

Best balsamic ever!


Yes, the food is different, some better, some not, some observations, The breads are so good! Always olive oil and balsalmic to dip your bread in. Pastries are everywhere, and of course very good. The tomatoes are so sweet, as good or better than our summer tomatoes. Eggs yolks are deep yellow to orange in color, the scrambled eggs on buffets every am are not cooked enough for us. Coffee is strong, We learned to ask for Americano Coffee, or a cappuccino. Lot’s of deli type meat everywhere. Of course gelato on every corner. When you ask for water, they will ask “still or sparkling”. Still is plain water and sparkling is carbonated. All water comes in a large glass bottle. Nothing from tap. No plastics here, all glass bottles are recycled and refilled. There is also bottles of water in glass bottles in the hotel rooms.

Here’s some pics to stimulate your appetite.

Boarding a train for Venice tomorrow!!! Trip winding down.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

What we look at every morning


Salute Dome from the Grand Canal

Venice, the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on 118 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals separated by 400 bridges.The central square, Piazza San Marco, contains St. Mark’s Basilica, which is tiled with Byzantine mosaics, and the Campanile bell tower offering views of the city’s red roofs.

WOW! Look where our hotel is, Grand Canal across from a beautiful basilica, Santa Maria, but how do we get there? 🤔

Our Hotel for last 2 nights. The Bauer Venezia

We rode the high speed train from Florence. First class, hour and half.

Trains made by same company that made our Spyder’s !

WOW! You know you read about Venice and see pictures, but it’s nothing like seeing it. No Cars, No bikes, only boats and walking. AMAZING. We got off train and walked across the plaza to the water, 4 boats were waiting on us, 6 to a boat, took us to our hotel. WOW just WOW

It’s great to walk on the small streets not worrying about traffic, cars or bikes! Other cities have been crazy

No cars

Then, Lunch on patio at Hotel overlooking Venice.

Hello From Venice
I am standing at the front door of our hotel!

This afternoon, a local guide who was born here, took us to St Mark’s square. We toured Doge’s Palace which is like the White House, Senate, and Supreme Court all in one building.

When Napolian captured Venice 1797, He took a lot of treasures, including this painting that was on ceiling. It hangs in Paris beside the Mona Lisa today. This is a copy, they replaced the hole with. Very interesting tour.
Our place for dinner tonight

Bathrooms in Italy. (Water Closets and Toilets)

Let’s just say they are different. Public ones are not what we are use too. The toilet usually has no seat. Our tour guide knew where the “clean” ones were. In every little town she would show us where to “go”. Not uncommon to see paid toilets. The toilets in restaurants are hard to find. They are always upstairs or downstairs, in a tiny space. No wonder they call them Closets

In the hotel rooms everyone had a bidet beside the toilet. Finally after the 4th or 5th night I googled how to use one. Quite refreshing! And the towels you use with bidet are different. So you will know which towels are hand towels and bidet towels, Just saying!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Good Morning Venice. Out our window. Last day
Gonna have to steam my milk every morning now

Venetian glass is thought to have been made for over 1,500 years, and production has been concentrated on the Venetian island of Murano since the 13th century. Today Murano is known for its art glass, but it has a long history of innovations in glassmaking in addition to its artistic fame—and was Europe's first major glassmaking center. During the 15th century, Murano glassmakers created cristallo—which was almost transparent and considered the finest glass in the world. This am we went to a Murano glass maker. Very interesting and beautiful

Took him about 3 min to make this horse. Then there were 3-5 floors of glass for sale in the building. Rather expensive
This scene is everywhere!
Love the streets with no cars!

We looked in glass shop after shop, really didn’t see anything we wanted to buy, then we happened on this small shop where this man was making the glass, everything in his shop he made, and it was reasonable! He couldn’t speak Engish, his wife a little. Loved talking to them. They had such a sweet spirit! Left with a smile!

Great experience with this sweet couple

Gondola Ride!

Can’t believe it!

Shells on sides

Couple enjoying wine at waters edge

Boats are very ornamental

Last Hoorah!

Saint Mark’s Basilica Private Tour at 9:30PM. We were the only ones in the chapel. An extraordinary experience. Pictures will not show what we saw, the entire ceiling is mosaics in 24 karat gold. Each piece the size of a fingernail. Walking within inches of the “alter” with the gospel writer, Mark’s remains. Seeing the guard use same key that opened the church on 1094 AD

The last picture is in the crypt, we are in the only “basement” in Venice. We are actually under the water.

The first St. Mark’s Basilica was built on this spot in the 9th century to house very sacred relics—relics that had been stolen! In 828, merchants from Venice stole the body of St. Mark the Evangelist, one of the four Apostles, from Alexandria, Egypt. According to the legend, they snuck them past the (Muslim) guards by hiding them under layers of pork in barrels!

The entire story is pictured on the 13th-century mosaic above the left door as you enter the basilica.

Back to hotel late, have early call in AM to airport by boat😳

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Our 6:30 AM taxi to airport, just for us!
So nice not having to worry about bags, etc! And our host was nice to look at too!

Hour flight from Venice to Munich, then 9 hours home! A great trip! Wonderful actually, so blessed to be able to experience other parts of the world! Thank you Lord!!

Great trip, and great group

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