Friday, July 1, 2011

Ah Venice….

We spent the last two days in Venice. This was not my first trip down the Canal, as mom and I had spent a few days there in 2007. It’s an interesting thing….after I went the first time, I felt like, yes it was nice, but that I had been there done that. Now having gone back with Jeff (hubby) and Heidi (sister-in-law) and Linda (family friend), I feel that there are many more things to be seen in this watery city. For example, Mom and I did the whole Murano island thing and went to the Accademia when we were there. This time, we did lots of shopping (um, hello, three girls plus Jeff? Yes, there was lots of shopping) and spent some time at St. Mark’s Square. But as I look at some of the museums that are in town, I feel like I could go back and spend a few days there experiencing some of the modern art collections, which is perhaps my favorite period when it comes to art. It probably won’t happen anytime soon given all the other places in the world to be seen, but something to put on the “if I ever happen to be in Venice again, I’m going to see X, Y and Z……”

We arrived and everyone was pleasantly surprised. You see, they have been having some thunderstorms at night, so it was nice and cool, a bit overcast at times with like zero humidity. Happy campers here! Such a contrast from the last time when it was hot, sticky and sweaty (and not in a fun way, mind you). Our hotel was basic by Venice standards, but super close to the Rialto Bridge, which meant we were right in the middle of the city, a perfect place to do our exploring from. Here’s some pictures from the sights of the city.


Alas, after just a short day and a half, we were on our way back to Florence and ready for our next adventure! Auntie Heidi and Linda will head out for Rome tomorrow and Jeff, Keegan and I are planning a trip to the park for a picnic for Daddy's last day in Firenze!

Fun with Daddy

Jeff leaves on Sunday to return to the good ol’ US of A, just in time for 4th of July. Boo! His two and a half weeks here has gone by very quickly. Now, it will be just three weeks until my time here in Italy is over. Wow, time really does fly.

We’ve had lots of fun with Keegan and Daddy while he’s been here. Here’s some of my favorite pictures from his time here…..

I'll share my gelato with you Daddy!

Here we are at a cooking class. Keegan helped us make gnocchi from scratch, bruschetta and tiramisu. Yum!

Enjoying an evening out on the Ponte Vecchio.

A ride on the carousel to celebrate Father's Day and Keegan's birthday, which were on the same day this year!

Cinque Terre

Last weekend, Jeff and I headed off for a holiday weekend. I decided to take him up to Cinque Terre, which is a place that I hadn’t been to, but had on my list. Cinque Terre is a region of five small towns that are built into the coastline of Italy. I thought it might remind us of the time we spent in Santorini on our honeymoon. My, how times have flown by in just a few years, having gotten married in 2008, Keegan was born in 2009, and now here we are in 2011. It seems like it was just yesterday that we went to Santorini.

But I digress…

The region of Cinque Terre is lovely. We decided to stay up in Levanto, which is just north of the last town and easily accessible by train. I have to say, it was perhaps my favorite area of the region, which surprised me somewhat. Don’t get me wrong, the 5 lands are beautiful, but Levanto is the type of town that you can see that families from all over Europe come to year after year for their summer holiday. We stayed in a beautiful villa overlooking the ocean and wandered the streets the first day that we arrived in town…..We even managed to catch a pretty good sunset. I love this picture of my two boys!

Evidently, i am contemplating something as i check out the view from our room...

The next day, we set off for Riomaggiore, the first of the five towns.

We didn’t spend too much time in each of the towns – they have mostly touristy shops (seen one, seen them all), but we did find our way to the Via della amore (the Lover’s Walk) which is the first part of the trail that connects the five towns. As we walked along the path to Manarola (the next town) we got to experience some pretty amazing views from the coastline.

Someday.......i want this.

We even had the opportunity to participate in a tradition along the way where you bring a lock to seal your love along the way. Keegan helped us out by choosing a spot for our lock and helped to close it up.

Next we hit the train to go to the town of Monterosso, which is more of a beach town area. We found a little cafĂ© on the beach to enjoy our lunch. We then headed back to Levanto and went to the Casino. Those of you who know my husband are probably laughing here. So was I when we first saw it on the map. But the “casino” was actually a beach club, complete with a swimming pool. So we decided to spend our afternoon here. Now Keegan is not a fan on the ocean and true to form, was a bit unnerved when Daddy took him out again. But after spending some time playing in the sand, he seemed to be slightly better when all three of us went out for a swim. But both K and I are more “pool people”, so we headed up to the pool where we donned our swimming caps (a requirement and oh so fashionable) and water wings for Keegan and off we went to splash around.

After a few hours of water play, we changed back into our clothes and headed off to Vernazza. This was perhaps the town that I was most looking forward to. We made it here for dinner and I was hoping to be able to head up the trail to get one of those postcard views, but alas I wasn’t able to find the right trail and the one that I did manage to hike up a bit had the sun right in my lens. Still, here's one that was worthy of posting from sea level of the town.

Apparently, Keegan is like his mama as he considers life in Italy....

We decided to come back a bit early to relax from our weekend away (I am here for work after all, so occasionally there is work to be done!). Alas, our plans were thwarted by the train strike. We ended up getting stuck in Pisa for a few hours, but made it home safe and sound.

Florence....from a different view

The other day, we decided to embark on a new experience. We left Keegan at home with Linda and headed off to climb to the top of the dome at the Cathedral. A few steps later (more like 463 steps later) and some sore muscles the next day, we came up to an incredible view of the city.

Needless to say, we were hot, sweaty and tired after our trip (and gave away a calorie or two during the experience). But it is just another thing we can check off our “things to do in Italy” list.

Wine….Chianti style

Last week, Jeff, Keegan and I headed out on a tour of the Chianti region for some wine tasting. Ok, so Jeff and I did the wine tasting and Keegan had juice J

Our tour took us to a winery in Chianti outside the town of Greve. Now neither Jeff nor I have ever been big on red wines, but after our experience I think we are beginning to develop a taste for it. We learned about the different types of Chianti wine and had the opportunity to taste two different Chianti wines, as well as Vin Santo, a traditional tuscan sweet dessert wine.

An awesome view from the castle…

Now that’s some REALLY old wine.

We even saw some beautiful peacocks up at the castle. This was probably Keegan’s favorite part of the day.