Everything is still on track to visit Italy next fall – fingers crossed. Reservations have been made for the hotels and now we’re just waiting until the new year to start watching air fares.
It’s revitalizing to be planning out travel once again. I’ve been reading and watching videos about the various places we will be visiting and some of the history of the regions. I have also started taking my Italian lessons once again. “La ragazza indossa un vestito rosso.” (I think it’s the same girl in the red dress from my french lessons).
I have had a few questions from, and chats with people about the places we will be visiting, so I thought I would share a little bit about them. Maybe it will inspire some folks to plan a visit too! To those who have heard the stories, skip this post. For those interested, let’s start!
We have decided on ten main places that we will be visiting this trip, plus a few side trips to enjoy sites near those locations. Each place will provide different experiences and we’re looking forward to checking them out,
We will be flying into Venice to start the trip. Venice is one of my favorite cities in Italy because it is so unique. I love the fact that there are no vehicles to deal with – just boats on the canal. While some people complain about having to walk and cross bridges, I think that is what makes it special. You can just wander around anywhere and if you get tired, you can hop on a boat and get to where you want to go.
As far as things to see and do – what are you interested in? The most visited site is Piazza San Marco. The Basilica is gorgeous and the Doges’ palace is intriguing. The islands of Burano and Murano are beautiful. Burano has its colorful houses and Murano has its glass production. Art galleries, churches, theater and delicious seafood. Oh yes – there are also the canals that wind around and through the city.
We are also planning to take a day trip to Vicenza, home to the Palladian architecture of Andrea Paladio. If you are wondering about Palladian architecture, just take a look at the Jefferson Memorial, Jefferson’s home Monticello or the Capitol Building. It’s only an hour’s train ride and will be a pleasant place to visit for a day.
We’ll be staying in a hotel called Hotel Antiche Figure. We’ve stayed there twice before and love it. It is literally right across the canal from the train station and the vaporetto lines.
Heading west from Venice, our next stop will be the town of Brescia. The allure of Brescia is its Roman ruins.
We will be staying at the Hotel Centro Paolo VI. It was originally a monastery and looks nice. It’s not a fancy place, but it is convenient to the sites we want to see and there are many restaurants nearby.
Some people have called Bergamo a double-decker city. There is the newer town below and the historic old town up on the hill. They have a funicular that takes you to the upper town if climbing steep steps (and lots of them) is not something you enjoy.
Our hotel in Bergamo is called the Gombit Hotel and is located in the old town right off of the main piazza. It’s centrally located and the piazza offers up some great people-watching while sipping a beverage.
Piedmont – Alba
Piedmont is one of Italy’s finest wine regions. It is home to the Nebbiolo grape, which is used to make Barbaresco and Barolo wines.
The last time we were here, we had a wonderful time visiting wineries and visiting some of the hill towns. We are hoping to do a little more of the same, plus visit some little towns nearby.
We will be staying in an Airbnb property in the town of Alba, which will provide us with a nice relaxing place to spread out while there. It’s in a great location near the train station and also the main street that leads to everywhere you need to go in Alba.
The Cinque Terre is located along the Ligurian Seacoast and is considered part of the Italian Riviera. Its name translates to the ‘five lands’ and it is made up of five individual towns – Monterosso, Vernazzi, Coniglio, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Each town offers gorgeous views, Italian charm, seaside relaxation and delicious seafood.
Many people love to hike between the towns using a dedicated trail that runs above the towns. We will be taking the train or boats that also run between the towns – no sense clogging up the trail.
We will be staying in the town of Monterosso al Mare at the Hotel Pasquale. From the north, Monterosso is the first of the five towns and has sandy beaches to enjoy. The hotel is located just off the harbor / beach and is a short walk from the train station.
Florence brings back the Renaissance – with its art works, churches and architecture. This will be our artsy stop with visits to the Uffizi Museum, the Accademia to visit Michelangelo’s Statue of David and to see some of the beautiful artworks in the churches.
Sue and I are also fans of the Dan Brown novel ‘Inferno’. Much of the story takes place in Florence, so we are planning to take an ‘Inferno Tour’. We took an ‘Angels and Demons’ tour in Rome and enjoyed it very much, so we’re hoping this one will be equally fun.
For our accommodations, we decided to rent an apartment. I had read about the Kairos By Florence Art Apartments and when I checked the reviews they were recommended by many others – not just a magazine list. It is located three blocks from the Uffizi Museum and two blocks in the other direction to the Piazza de Santa Croce. The location is great, there are many restaurants nearby, and it was just remodeled in 2020.
Tuscany – Gaiole in Chianti
Gaiole in Chianti is a small town located in the Chianti wine region. Just picture vineyards of plump, purple Sangiovese grapes everywhere you look.
For this next part of the trip, we are using the credit we have from the China trip cancellation. The travel agency will provide much of the daily itinerary of tours and winery visits. We will be with them through our time in Orvieto. Included in our plans are winery visits, walks in Siena and San Gimignano and some free time in Gaiole.
We will be staying at the Castello di Spaltenna, just outside of the town of Gaiole. It is a resort hotel with many amenities and a wonderful history. We’re hoping it turns out to be as nice as it sounds.
While Montepulciano is technically still in Tuscany, the area surrounding the town is called the Val D’Orcia. When you see pictures of the winding roads lined with Cypress trees, you’re looking at the essence of the Val D’Orcia. Calm, relaxing and lots of great wine.
We will be staying at the Palazzo Carletti. The Palazzo Carletti is a Noble Palace with five rooms that are available for guests. It was originally a medieval building that was transformed in the 18th century into an aristocratic residence. It sounds like an interesting place to stay and it looks beautiful.
Continuing to the south, our next stop will be the ancient town of Orvieto. The area around the town is known for its link to the Etruscan civilization and delicious wines. Besides the delicious wines, there are many things to see in and around the city.
In Orvieto, we will be staying at the Hotel Duomo. It is located across the piazza from the Orvieto Cathedral.
Rome, the Eternal City, is our final location. When we visited the last time, we were overwhelmed by how much there is to see in Rome. History, art and culture can be found everywhere – it just depends on what you like. If food and wine is on your list of ‘likes’, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve been to the Vatican before, so this time we plan to spread out a little and see more of the city. There are a couple of sites that we have on our wish list, so there will likely be a visit to a church or two, as well as an art museum. The Spanish Steps are also on the list, as well as a day trip to Tivoli to see Hadrian’s Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este. The villas are both UNESCO world heritage sites and are said to be lovely.
We will be returning to the Hotel Albergo del Senato in Rome. It is a wonderful hotel that is right next to the Pantheon in the Piazza della Rotondo. The highlight for us during our last visit was throwing open the windows and listening to the music coming from the buskers in the piazza below. Everything from Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’ to Puccini’s ‘Nessum Dorma’ was on the playlist the last time, so who knows what we’ll be listening to this time.
From Rome, we will be flying home after what we hope will have been a fabulous journey.
So that’s what we’ve included in our itinerary and some of the reasons for the choices. If you have additional ideas, please pass them along. Once we have the airfare taken care of, my very favorite part of the planning process takes place – checking out restaurants!
Thanks for following along and until next time… Arrivederci!
And a special ‘Arrivederci’ to “La ragazza indossa un vestito rosso.”