trip to Italy (long)
Posted on Jul 02, 2013 by
Well, it`s back to the real world. A year to plan and the 16 days in Italy went by in a flash. The cast of Characters: George and Marta plus our friends and neighbors, Maria and Ken We landed in Florence to find Maria and Ken waiting with Marino, the driver, to take us to Maria`s brother`s house just outside of Florence. Serafino (Fino) his wife Virginia and their two children: GianLuca and Sofia live in Settigiano, on the hills just outside the city center of Florence. The panoramic views from their patio of the entire city was a beauty to behold. We often sat outside in the mornings and evenings to admire the view and the sunsets. The house is incredibly beautiful and they very graciously offered us their hospitality. We visited the Accademia, Uffici and the Duomo museums as well as the baptisteri. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (better known as the Duomo) dominates the landscape and we were lucky that Virginia arranged for a friend, who is a guide, to take us to all the major sights. We learned so much more from a live person than trying to read a guide book as you gaze at the exhibits. We walked the walk and talked the talk all over Florence. We ate gelato, bought jewelry at the Ponte Vechio (a gold chain for me) and ate wonderful food. We went to the outside flea market where leather goods abound and to the mercato, where from 6 to 14:00 you can get, fish, meat or fowl, cheeses, olives, spices, olive oil (the wonderful unfiltered extra virgin one we don`t get) and other wonderful foodstuff. We bought some balsamic vinegar, cheese, mushrooms and spices to bring home. I had to pry George away from some of the things he wanted to bring home. We bought some 10-20 and 40 year old balsamic vinegar that is treated and tasted like fine wine. Incredible on a piece of cheese or fruit. We also borrowed Fino`s Beamer and drove to Sienna one day. A lovely city with a large Piaza. They hold horse races there. We also tasted the gelato and had a great lunch in a little bit of a place. I`ll dig up the names of the restaurants if you need a recommendation. The only downside to all of this is that on Memorial Day ( a day I WILL remember) as we all sat in the patio having a
glass of wine, I got up to get something and tripped on the stone steps and fell. I heard an awful `crack` and my left foot proceeded to swell up like a prosciutto ham, a whole one! The next day, I visited a clinic, saw a sports medicine doctor who took an xray. Well, the good news was, the ankle was not broken. However, I did have a fracture on the metatarsal bone on my left foot. No cast needed, just rest and keep my foot up..... Good luck with that. It was not going to happen. With iceand a pain medication the doctor prescribed, I managed to hobble and hop with the rest of the troop to Sorrento,Capri, Anacapri, the ruins at Agrigento, Syracuse andTaormina in Sicily, and visited Maria`s home town of Ragusa in Sicily where we stayed for 5 days at a friend`s hotel. We feasted at wineries and agriturismos, seaside restaurants
and everywhere we went to tried the gelato. The best was the homemade gelato at the Montreal Hotel in Ragusa. Each flavor was wonderful. Lemon, vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut.................TMTC We had other adventures: Things do come in three`s after all The car we rented to drive from Florence to Ragusa died on us on the autostrasa and we stood on the side of the road until the tow came for us. Then, with no other car available for us we took a cab from Messina to Ragusa (a two hour 10 minute cab ride!) We came home to lost luggage in Miami. It was later found and someone from Alitalia drove it to the house. So another trip done, many adventures had, and fun experienced and shared with old and new friends. We left Ken and Maria in Ragusa. They are now back in Florence for a couple af days and will come back home on Wednesday. Tomorrow, back to work. More details on the trip will follow. Sorrento was beautiful. Capi and Anacapri crowded and Sicily was a lovely surprise. There were times when we hummed the music from the Godfather...Driving was an adventure all its own. I was going to wait to send a more detailed post with hotel and restaurant information. (The Miramare Hotel in Sorrento was an incredible find on the internet) and that will have to wait a few days; but Linda suggested I submit this version now. I will send restaurant and hotel info soon.