Let’s try this again. As you may or may not know, we planned a trip to Italy last year in September and due to my taking a bad fall just days before we planned to leave (resulting in a fractured back), that trip was canceled. So, after being in a back brace for over four months (so the fractures could heal), a complicated back surgery that literally screwed my spine back into place, and rehabbing for months and months, one year later we’re ready to roll those suitcases across the Italian cobblestones. Yay!
Here’s the 2017 itinerary – some new adventures and some we’ve kept in from last year’s canceled trip.
Volterra is the first major destination. We’re flying into Florence and will be renting a car to drive down to Volterra. It will be especially important that you hear from us during the first day or so to make sure we live through this driving experience. Even though we rent a car each time we visit Italy, it is always a challenge to get on the right auto strada going the right way and read the road signs in between. Let’s not forget we have to do this at 90+ miles an hour to keep up with traffic and read the signs written in Italian. So, if you don’t hear from us for a few days, do check in to make sure we aren’t going in circles around Tuscany and haven’t given up trying to find our apartment — we might be hiding out in a winery and refusing to leave.
- We’ve rented an apartment for a week at an agritourism where we’ve stayed before. We’ll be just outside of Volterra in a beautiful country setting, enjoying the homemade wine and a few meals in their dining room aka a centuries-old church.
- One of our days will be devoted to the town of Volterra. While we’ve been here before, our time was limited and we really didn’t get to experience it fully. If any of you have read the Twilight series, you know that Volterra was depicted in a couple of the books and movie. We’ll be taking a walking tour at dusk one evening and I’ll let you know if we bump into any Twilight characters. Volterra is also known for its Etruscan artifacts and alabaster.
- The town of San Gimignano is on the list to see again this year. Antimo from Voomago has connected us to a local who will show us unique parts of the town. And you can be sure we will be paying attention to what parking lot we leave the car. We don’t need to repeat our past visit to the town with an unscheduled tour of all the visitor parking lots trying to find our car.
- Wine tasting, a cooking class, and traveling around the beautiful Tuscan countryside will fill out the week before we head to Venice to meet up with Antimo who will be joining us for a few weeks of our adventure.
- Our local guide Lorenzo will be showing us Venice in a unique way the following day. I can’t wait to meet Lorenzo and find out what he has in mind for our day together.
- A water taxi to the island of Burano is on the agenda. I’ll be motion-sickness patched and drugged for this adventure for sure, as it takes over an hour to get there. The incentive? Experience the colorful town (named one of the top 10 most colorful cities in the world), art, lace, blown glass, food… and the list goes on.
- After a day of walking and a guided tour around the main town, we’ll be traveling to a small hilltop town Custoza for dinner at Villa Vento.
- A day trip to Lago di Garda, Lazise, Bardolino and Sirmione is planned while in this area.
- And, of course, a wine tasting and a cooking class had to be included one day. Yay!
Bologna and Modena
- On our road trip in, we’ll be stopping in Mantova for lunch and checking out a castle. Not sure that it is “tiara” worthy, but I’m packing mine just in case I need to whip it out for a photo op.
- We’ll be visiting the Lamborghini factory and museum. It was on our list last year so had to make sure we added it back in the itinerary since we missed it. You can bet that I’ll be holding Dick back from shipping one of these home. Mike H and Barry B, please don’t accept any large crates from Bologna – in case he ships one to you fellows instead. Maybe I can ply him away from the cars with the dinner that’s planned at Pizzeria Maggi?
- One of the days we are in Modena, we’ll be checking out the Mercato, and having a picnic and Balsamic Vinegar tasting at a private villa. There WILL be balsamic vinegar coming home with us.
Puglia and Manduria
- After a day lazing on the beautiful beaches in Manduria (well someone has to do it) we will be having dinner in Oria with new travelers joining us.
- Day trip to Polignano a Mare for beaching and lunch at the Cave Restaurant. OMG this place looks amazing!
- More wine tasting! We found the Primitivo wines in Manduria to be wonderful. But that was a few years ago, so we’ll have to taste test them just to make sure they are still as delicious.
- Tour of the ancient town of Matera and Altamura with a bread making class. I’d better step up my workouts now if I’m going to make it home in the same clothes I packed with all this good food and wine.
- Lake Bracciano was a destination we didn’t make last year so we’ll be day tripping it there and visiting Castello Odescalchi in that area.
- Spello is a town you might know that showcases beautiful flower laden streets in the spring time and actually has contests for the flower presentations. We’ve been there in the spring and it is astounding how magical the town looks bathed in flowers. Looking forward to what it has to offer in the Fall.
- One highlight is to visit Il Teatre del Sale for a fun evening of food and Italian Opera. Girls in Florence described an evening at the restaurant and live theater. Shhh, don’t tell Dick its opera – he’s not a fan. I’ll just make sure we order an extra bottle of wine at dinner so maybe he won’t notice.
- Another must see this year is Maria Giovanna Cimino’s ceramic shop M G Designs. We spent hours in her shop last time and look forward to seeing Maria and her beautiful artwork again. Dick will be hiding the Euros and credit cards that day I’m sure.
- We’ll be stopping into the Rowing Club, Canottieri Firenze for a drink or perhaps lunch one day. It is located on the Arno River below the Ponte Vecchio. It has great views of both from the bar where we’re likely to be camped out.
- The rest of the time in Florence we’ll be popping our heads into lesser-known museums and art galleries to soak up more of the culture this beautiful city has to offer.
Well, that’s it. Dick will be prying me away from Florence and throwing me (kicking and screaming) on the plane to return home. We hope you will join us for our day-to-day escapades starting in September!