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*Total mileage refers to distance driven by car on that day.

Italy 2005

May 22nd.
We finally headed off on our honeymoon. Our flight was from Ottawa, Toronto, Frankfurt and then Rome. We had enough frequent flyer miles to go business class. Great experience. They keep feeding you while you’re on the plane. Our overseas flight was in the evening, so we arrived early morning in Frankfurt.
May 23rd.
Arrived in Frankfurt. We were off to Rome. We started getting tired, since we didn’t sleep much and the time difference. Once in Rome (Airport), got our rental car, and headed off. We were staying Montefiascone, near Lake Bolsena. The driving was 2 hours, which normally wouldn’t have been that bad, but since we were so tired, it wasn’t that great. There was some adjusting to the street signs and Italian way of driving. Once in Montefiascone, we checked and tried to find a place to get some food. What a culture shock. Everything closes down during the afternoon. I had read that stores closed, but didn’t figure everything would. We were getting nervous since we were famished and just wanted to sleep. We didn’t have any patience to wait. We kept walking, trying to find a wine store at least. We struck out. We resigned ourselves to eating junk food from a gas station. As we were walking back to our B&B, the stores started opening up again. Finally. We bought cheese, prosciutto, crackers and bottle of wine. We went back to our room, ate, read up a bit on Italy and went to sleep around 8 pm. Woke up around 11pm, couldn’t sleep. Wife and I read some more, ate a bit more, and then went back to sleep around 2 am.
Total Mileage: 152 km
May 24th.
We were up at 6:30 am. Got ready. Had breakfast. Had my first taste of Italian coffee. Bleh!. I hate coffee. My wife intends on converting me to coffee on this trip. No orange juice. I have to have my orange juice in the morning. Oh well. We headed off to Bomarzo, to visit the garden of monsters. Nice tour, took some pictures. We then headed to Montepulciano. Once there, we were freaking out with the narrow streets, sharp turns, and steep little alleyways. We had a hard time finding parking. When we found parking, we were so happy to walk. We visited one of the oldest shops in Montepulciano, where they make hand made leather goods. We decided not to buy anything, because we thought it was just an impulse purchase, and we figured we would see more stuff later in the trip.(This was a mistake, but more on this later). We visited the wine cellar for Ercolani. Decent Vino Nobile, but great Vino Santo. Brought a bottle back. We shopped around and went back to our car. We were off to Siena. Wow, this was like a labyrinth. Our B&B in Siena was in the centre of town, and we drove around the town 3 times and still couldn’t find the street leading to it. We had to ask for directions. We found the right street, but it was a pedestrian street. We could only stop to unload our luggage and then we had to park the car 2 km away. Our B&B was pretty good. We had a balcony with our room, and we had a view of the city (rooftops). We walked around the town. We turned in early since the jet lag was getting to us a bit.
Total Mileage: 122 km
May 25th.
Today, we went off to visit our first wine producer. We went to see Isole e Olena. About one-hour drive. We were well received. We ended up tasting a vertical of Cepparello, since they had been opened the day before for journalists. We had a tour of the facility. We left and went back to Siena. Once in Siena, we did a walking tour of the city. Very interesting. We had supper near our B&B, and had the tasting menu. Great food. Picked up a bottle of wine to drink on our balcony, and also found some 2001 Tignanello for a lot cheaper than back home. Bought a bottle.
Total Mileage: 122 km
May 26th.
This morning, we had breakfast and decided not to get the car, but to lug our baggage to our the car instead, the whole 2 km. Wasn’t too bad. We were off to Chianti. We were visiting Carpineto this morning. We were 10 minutes late, because we were stuck behind a tour bus. All the roads are narrow and winding. Nice visit, some good and some not so good wine. We then went to our B&B, Ancora del Chianti. Beautiful Place. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Chianti region. I would suggest asking for the room with the kitchenette if you plan on making your own food. Great base for day trips to Florence or Siena or any wineries in Chianti. Once checked in, we went to the big town of Greve in Chianti. Bought some food. We then visited Castello Vicchiomaggio. Awful wine, very disappointing. They used to make such good wine. Back in Greve in Chianti, I found the Cantina del Chianti. It is a wine museum, but where you can taste of 130 different wines, 95% of which are from Tuscany. You buy a smart card and charge it with credits, and you get your wine at different automated pouring stations. Different value wines will have different prices for the pour (about 1 ounce). Great place, but unfortunately, I discovered it only 30 minutes before closing time. This is another must for anyone visiting the region.
Total Mileage: 98 km
May 27th.
We visited Florence today. The city is crowded and dirty. It has its charms, but too many tourists. There were so many American tourists. The line-ups to visit the sites were so long. We just walked around. We did go to the Galleria and saw the statue of David. Very impressive. After that, we left and went to the Piazza Michelangelo, where you have a scenic view of the city. Took more pictures, and head off to our B&B. We had supper a nice little restaurant in village of Spedaluzzo (basically a restaurant, a house and a church). The restaurant was on top of a hill, and we had a table outside. Beautiful view of the sunset. Excellent food.
Total Mileage: 88 km
May 28th.
Today, we are doing the tourist thing. We are going to Pisa to see the leaning tower. We were staying in Lucca. When we got to our B&B, very disappointing. It looked like a slum. It was clean and cheap so we stayed. We went to Pisa, which was 20 minute drive. We stayed a whole 30 minutes in Pisa. Back in Lucca, we visited the historic centre. Walked around a bit, bought some wine to drink back in our room, and went for supper. We were glad to leave this place.
Total Mileage: 170 km
May 29th.
Sunday. Rude shock. Everything is closed. We were supposed to visit 2 Balsamic vinegar producers. We had appointments set up for 2 months. We had the option of visiting the Ferrari museum, but we didn’t have enough time. Our first Acetaia was Acetaia Malpighi at 11 am. They have a restaurant/store and a production facility. We stopped at the store first. They were closed. The restaurant was opening at lunchtime, so the manager was around. We asked about our visit. The manager told us that everything is closed Sundays and there are no visits. We explained that we had an appointment. He made a few phone calls, but couldn’t’ reach anyone. We decided to go to the production facility, in case there was someone waiting for us there. Again all closed up. No one. Hmm. We were getting nervous about our second producer as well. We drove off, and tried to find a place to eat. We relaxed on a terrace waiting for our next appointment. We had driven past the next Acetaia, and everything seemed to be closed. We gave them the benefit of the doubt since it was too early. When we went back, the daughter of the owner (who is also part owner) let us in. She gave us a fabulous tour and explained all the production steps. We tasted all their balsamic vinegars. They even make some traditional and extra old, which are aged in predominately aged in cherry wood or juniper wood casks. Ended up getting the extra old cherry wood and traditional juniper. She explained that juniper casks must seasoned between 10 to 20 years before they can be used to age the vinegar. Young juniper imparts too much of strong flavour. They use casks made out of different woods: oak, chestnut, acacia, cherry, juniper, ash and mulberry. I highly recommend visiting this producer, just North of Modena. After the tour, we went to San Secundo de Parmense. We were staying in a small hotel. We were visiting a parmigiano regiano producer the next day, so we wanted something close. The hotel was atrocious. They even lock you in at night.
Total Mileage: 347 km
May 30th.
This morning we went for breakfast, except we couldn’t leave until they unlocked the door at 7:30 am. We were locked in. Not impressed. We left at 8, to visit a Parmigiano Reggiano producer, which was just down the road from the town. Great visit. We saw the entire production since the milk was arriving and they were preparing the cheese. We got a chance to see the aging chamber. We got an explanation on the different quality levels. Afterwards, they gave us cheese knives as gifts, and we tasted some of their old parmigiano. There was only one other couple with us. It was quite nice since we were not a big group. We then drove off to Leivi, which is up in the mountains from Chiavari, in Liguria. We got to our B&B (so many steep roads and hairpin curves, they even have mirrors in the curves so you can see the oncoming traffic), but our host wasn’t there. We were too early. We went back to the seashore, and went swimming in the Ligurian Sea. We then drove around a bit before heading back to our B&B. Again, beautiful place, but ask for the room with balcony. We had a beautiful view of the sea and surrounding mountains. We had supper a great pizzeria/restaurant. The food was great and they even brought out their homemade Limoncello, which was fabulous. We could have drunk the entire bottle, but since I was driving, only had one and half glasses. My wife had quite a bit more. They didn’t even charge us for the Limoncello; it was complimentary. We ended up leaving a good tip.
Total Mileage: 205 km
May 31st.
Our host suggest to us some different tours for the day. We decided to take the train to Camogli (20 minutes away), walk around, and then take the boat to Portofino and San Margherita. Another great day of enjoying the scenery and good food. Our boat ride was great. Some American teenagers got on board and were quite full of themselves. That didn’t last long once we were at sea. Most of them got seasick big time. We disembarked in Portofino, and toured around. We took a different boat and went to San Margherita afterwards. It was getting late in the afternoon, and we were getting tired, we took the train back to Chiavari. The train was late and we had to wait over an hour. Back in Chiavari, we went swimming in the Sea again. We tried finding a restaurant with seafood and that wasn’t a tourist trap, but to no avail. We went to the grocery store, bought some wine, cheese, bread, veggies, salami, and went back our B&B to eat on the balcony. We had a great show in the evening. There was a storm in the valley on the other side of the mountain, and we could see the flashes of lighting. The cloud started forming at the crest of the mountain, but was never able to cross of the mountain range. Beautiful display of lightning. Got some great pictures. Tomorrow, off to Savonna.
Total Mileage: 22 km
June 1st.
When left this morning, the sky was clouding over and it looked like rain. Driving towards Savonna, the sky kept getting darker, and the temperature dropped below 20’C. This curtailed our plans of going swimming in Savonna. We decided to drive on to Alba. The outside temperature hovered around 16’C. Quite a change from the 25’C when we left in the morning. It misted a bit while we were driving on the highway, but never actual rain. The highway was very quiet, almost no cars. We got to our B&B but no one was there. We were actually staying outside of Alba on the Barbaresco side of the town. We went back to town. Obviously, everything was closed since it was the middle of the afternoon. Walked around the town until the shops opened up. We did a bit of shopping. Went back to our B&B to check in. Great place, not expensive and they have small restaurant on the ground. They served fabulous food for supper, and inexpensive (wine and food). The place is called Locanda di Barbaresco. Great evening, the sun came out and warmed up. We were able to eat outside.
Total Mileage: 250 km
June 2nd.
This morning, we left to visit some wineries we had appointments with, except, I made a mistake looking in our itinerary. Our appointments were actually for the following day. We got to the first winery, and no one was there. We were quite insulted and disappointed, especially after the Balsamic vinegar producer fiasco. We double checked our itinerary and that’s when we realized our mistake. We were supposed to go to Milan today. We decided to the enoteca regional for Barbaresco and Moscato. We drove around the small country roads. Once at the enoteca’s, there was no one around, everything was closed. The enoteca’s were open, but there was hardly any choice for tasting (2 moscato d’asti, and in barbaresco, 5 bottom tier barbaresco’s all below 15 euros a bottle). We found out that June 2nd is a national holiday in Italy. This holiday was created 6 years ago, and that is why it is not in guidebooks. Good thing we didn’t go to Milan. 2 hour drive to visit all the closed shops. We ended up doing some hiking in the vineyard around our B&B. They had given us hiking maps for the Barbaresco and Barolo Regions. They were great since they showed where all the wineries were. Again, we had a nice supper at our B&B.
June 3rd
This morning we are off to visit wineries. For real this time. First stop was at Aldo Conterno. We had a fabulous tour. Beautiful cellar. Great discussion with Giacomo Conterno. He is very passionate about wines and the quality. He declassified all his 2002, and for 2003, very little is up the Barolo standard. He actually has very little wine in 2003. He admits he is taking a financial for this, but he will be able to recoup in the quality level of other years, where his entire production should sell out based on the quality. We were then off to the town of Barolo. We had lunch, and we were going to visit the Enoteca Regional for Barolo, except we didn’t know until we walked up that it closes at lunch time and doesn’t reopen until late afternoon. We turned back and went to Alba instead. More shopping, some wine buying (Conterno wine). In the late afternoon, we had an appointment at Armando Parusso. Great winery but very modern style. As much as Aldo Conterno is a traditionalist, Parusso is a modernist. And they are across the road from each other (well actually about ½ km). The tour was very brief, they seemed to want to usher us out quickly. A bit disappointing since we had booked the appointment 2 months in advance. We left and were headed back to Alba to have supper, and decided to stop at one more producer. Azelia was on our way back. Very well received for a spur of the moment stop. Unfortunately the wines were really bad. Very chemical. I didn’t want to be insulting, so I kept saying “nice”. When we left, Ms. Carriedca asked me if I really liked them, and told her “no”, but I didn’t want to be insulting to our hosts. We had supper in Alba. Great little Trattoria. Fabulous food. Inexpensive. Tasted like home cooked meal. Went back our B&B, sat outside and enjoyed a bottle of wine we had bought.
Total Mileage: 180 km (for june 2nd & 3rd together)
June 4th
Yesterday we tasted Barolos. This morning we are going to Barbarescos. We had asked our host at our B&B to make an appointment for us with Moccagatta for 11am. We already had an appointment with Sottimano at 9 am. We got to Sottimano a little before 9. We waited a bit before ringing the bell. No one was there. We sat in the car and waited for 20 minutes. No one ever showed up. We came here on recommendation from Futronic (no offense to you, they just seemed to have forgotten us.). We decided to leave and drove around the countryside. We went to Moccagatta (which was just down the road from Sottimano) at around a quarter to 11. The producers wife let us in, and she called her husband. He showed up 5 minutes after. He didn’t speak English or French. We managed with our phrase book, and with lots of hand gestures. He gave us a tour of his winery (newly renovated in 2003). Very traditional looking inside. After tasting his wines, he seems to be somewhere in between a modernist and traditionalist. We tasted all his wines. We bought all the single vineyard wines (01 Bric Balin and 01&99 Basarin). He was sold out of 01 Cole. We left and went for lunch in the town of Barbaresco. I searched for 01 Cole. No luck. We had a nap and then went to Alba again. I searched a few stores before I finally found the 01 Cole. I also looked for 01 Aldo Conterno Barolos, but the Barolo festival was tomorrow and would be gone. Not sure but I think most of the 01 Barolos are just starting to be released. Again, great supper at our B&B.
Total Mileage: 59 km
June 5th
We left Alba and headed for the Alps. We were going to Lago di Garda. We were staying in Limone sul Garda. After spending so many days eating so much, I think I discovered that I am Lactose intolerant (I do have a high threshold though). We had beautiful drive, lots of nice scenery. Once in Limone, we checked into our hotel and then we visited the town, and browsed through the shops. Nice supper, and relaxed on our balcony with a view of the lake, drinking some wine. Nice uneventful day.
Total Mileage: 332
June 6th
Today, we went off by ferry across the lake to visit Malcesine. Again, we browsed the little shops. We then went up in the cable car to the top of the Mountain. Great view, except when we got to the top, a storm front crossed over the mountain ridge and it started raining. We went back down to the town of Malcesine. More shopping since it was raining. Once the rain stopped, headed back across the lake. We walked around the town of Limone. Good exercise with all the steep roads/alleyways. Great supper sitting beside the lake. A bit expensive, but we were paying for the view. The food was great so not such a big deal. Again, relaxed on the balcony with some wine.
Total Mileage: 0.0
June 7th
We were able to find a laundrymat in Riva. We need to wash our clothes real good. Washing in the sink just didn’t cut it anymore. An hour and half later, we had clothes for the rest of our trip. We headed for Verona. We stopped in Bardolino and visited a Olive oil museum. Tasted some great Olive oil. Bought some to bring back. Our B&B (La Pala) was North of Verona, in the hills, near Cancello. If you blink, you miss it. Very quiet place, old farm house that has been renovated. Nothing is close by, but within a short drive from Valpolicella and Verona. Our host were great. We had a nap in the afternoon, and around 5pm decided to go see the big town of Soave. Everything was closed, so we turned back. We ate supper at a Trattoria on our way back. Home cooked meal. Momma was cooking. Great food. Wine was their own home made wine. A bit rough, but good. Relaxing evening at our B&B. We were the only ones there.
Total Mileage: 230 km
June 8th.
We had a fabulous breakfast outside on the terrace, with marvelous view of the valley and of Verona on the horizon. Finally had eggs for breakfast. We drove off to the Valpolicella region to visit Serego Alighieri. The tour was very good, beautiful grounds on the estate. Various fruit trees, even a banan tree. We learned that all the Molinara grapes/vines used by them, are from clones from a handful of vines along a pathway. The wines are on their own rootstock, and have not been affected by phyloxera. We also learned that most wines in valpolicella (e.g. Recioto, Amarone, etc.) used to be aged in cherry wood. The problem was cherry wood was too porous and there would be too much loss from evaporation. Now almost all the producers use exclusively Slovenian oak, but Serego Alighieri ages their wines in oak, with a short aging at the end in cherry wood barrels. The cherry wood imparts some flavour that the oak doesn’t. We the proceed to taste their wines. I was a bit disappointed by them giving us their bottom level wines, but they were surprisingly good, especially for the price. I guess they were expecting us to buy a lot of wine, but they didn’t seem to understand that we have a limit that we can bring back (I have to carry this wine, I’m not a pack mule). We would have liked to taste all the single vineyard Amarone and Recioto from Masi, but it was 12:30 and we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to find a place for lunch that would still be open. We were escorted back to our car, but instead of going through the nice garden, we were brought through the shed with the tractors and beside the Diesel fuel storage tanks. This really was shabby. Not classy at all. We left and went for lunch. We then went to Verona. Nice city. We did the tourist things. The roman arena, the church of St-Lawrence, the Castello Vecchio, the house Juliette (I know it is a crock). We wrote our names in the alley leading to it. We headed back to our B&B. Stopped at a grocery store, picked up some food for supper. We sat outside on the terrace at our B&B and enjoyed our supper. Our host showed up and since it was getting cool outside (we were at the top of a mountain/large hill), they made a fire in the fireplace inside. We went inside. They left and put out some cookies and Grappa. We tried several Grappa’s in Italy, and we just can’t stand the stuff. It’s like rubbing alcohol. Oh well.
Total Mileage: 114 km
June 9th
This morning, we headed off in the direction of Venice. There was a lot of traffic on the highway in the opposite direction. We stopped in Padua (Padova) and visited the Basilica of St-Anthony. My uncle insisted I visit. We brought him back a souvenir. We actually got lost trying to find the Basilica. The streets signs/directions were horrible. Signs would say to turn left, except at the intersection, it would say turn right instead. We went around in circles a few times. We also had a hard trying to exit the city and finding the highway. On the highway, we got stuck in traffic when we got to Mestre, just outside of Venice. We were staying at a Hotel in Mestre. It was nice and sunny, so we walked around in the central plaza, browsing the little shops, and trying to find a place to eat. By coincidence and by luck, we found a small grill/rotisserie. We bought a small roast chicken and french fries. Went back to our room, sat on the balcony, ate the chicken and fries with soft drinks. We were homesick for food that wasn’t pizza or pasta.
Total Mileage: 196 km
June 10th
Off to Venice. We took the city bus, and 40 minutes later, we were across the causeway, in Venice. Bought our day ticket for the vaporetto. We had guidebooks, and we did some of the walking tours. Had a bad lunch in tourist bar. We wanted cold beer. It was really warm out. We made our way to the Plaza San Marco. Beside the sea/bay of Venice, there was a good breeze. Quite comfortable. We visited the Ducal Palace. Afterwards, we wanted to visit the St-Marc’s Basilica, but the line-up was too long. We opted to visit the island of Murano. It was too late in the day to see any glass blowing, but we bought some gifts and souvenirs. We had a beer beside the waterfront, and then headed back to main Island of Venice. We did the gondola tour. I know it is corny, but my mom insisted we do it, and she even gave us money to do it. It was nice and relaxing after all the walking. We then checked out a few restaurants. A lot of them are for tourists and too expensive for what they are. We found a small restaurant, beside a small canal, behind a church. The tables are all outside in a small plaza. It is called Il Refolo. Fabulous food. Great service. Huge portions. Probably our best meal of the entire 4 weeks in Italy. Somewhat expensive, but we splurged. We left around 10:30, took the vaporetto back to the main Plazza, took the city bus, and went back to our hotel. Went to bed we arrived. We were exhausted.
Total Mileage: 0.0 km
June 11th
We left early today since we had lots of driving. We were going to San Marino. We didn’t stop to visit anything until we got to San Marino. Beautiful scenery in San Marino. We had a great Hotel. San Marino itself is small and can be visited quite quickly. Problem was, all the shops are full junk for tourists. Toy swords, fake brand name purses and sunglasses, t-shirts with fake emblems for Ferrari (San Marino Grand Prix). Very crappy. No wine stores, all liquor and spirits (no taxes). One wine store and some expensive stuff, but the temperature inside was close to 30’C, and all the expensive stuff like Solaia, Ornellaia were on the top shelf. Buyer beware. We didn’t find any good places to eat, so we drove back down the mountain to Rimini. We found a nice restaurant, or what we thought was a nice restaurant. The service was horrible, and food was barely acceptable. We went back to our room to rest. The driving was tiring today.
Total Mileage: 381 km
June 12th
We were off to Pescara today. We were supposed to stop off in Ancona to go swimming, but the temperature outside was only around 20’C, and that wasn’t on the beach with the sea breeze. We decided to go directly to Pescara. We got off the wrong exit in Pescara, so we drove around in circles trying to get our bearings with our maps. Eventually, we made our way to the centre of town. From there, we made our way to our B&B. No one was home. We went to the beach and walked along the beachfront. We stopped at nice restaurant for lunch. Food was excellent, service average. After some more walking, we drove back to our B&B. Really nice place. Our host had a male peac0ck. Beautiful bird. They also had an aviary with birds, and 4 turtles on their property. They had an orange tree, lemon tree, peach tree, apricot tree, prune tree and fig tree, along with other tropical palm trees. We had a big room, with a big private bathroom. We rested a bit, then relaxed on the terrace. They offered us tea and coffee. We chatted a bit with them. We went back to the beachfront and walked on the beach and in the sea. Nice sunset. We went for a nice supper. Good seafood and fish. We went back to our room, sat on our balcony and had some wine.
Total Mileage: 267 km
June 13th.
This day is going to be long. We were driving from Pescara to Amalfi. We slept in, even though we had a lot of driving, had a good breakfast and left. The drive was very nice and peaceful. Almost no one on the road. We saw lots of nice countryside. When we neared Salerno, we had a hard time finding the right exit for Amalfi (I think we missed it). After going too far on the highway, we back tracked and found the right road. The road to Amalfi is nuts. Very narrow, winding road. People drive fast. Mirrors all over the place because of all the hairpin curves. Ms. Carriedca was driving (I had driven most of the day). We had to stop about halfway on the winding road to Amalfi. We switched places. Ms. Carriedca couldn’t take the stress anymore. I was quite glad when we got to our B&B since by then, I was getting stressed from the narrow road. We were staying about 2-3 km past Amalfi. After checking in, we drove back to Amalfi to do some shopping. Walked around the waterfront for a while and then headed back. We had a nice supper at a Trattoria across the street from our B&B. Great food, beautiful view of the sea. Another nearby town was having a festival, and we could see fireworks. Very nice evening.
Total Mileage: 451 km
June 14th.
The drive back. We drove all the way back on the winding road we came in on the day before. I don’t know if it was because we were well rested, but it didn’t seem as bad on this day. We drove all the way to Pompei. We visited the ruins. The sky was overcast, and it was in the low 20’s outside. Very comfortable. The ruins are great to visit. We were there over an hour. After that, we had lunch at a pizzeria nearby. It was a bit expensive, but the pizza was great, they had cold drink, they had ICE for the drinks, and they had pepsi. I hardly ever drink soft drinks, but when I do, it is Pepsi. All they had in Italy was CocaCola. Ms. Carriedca was very glad to have a Diet Pepsi. We then headed for Rome. We got stuck in traffic as we entered Rome. Worse driving I’ve seen in Italy is in Rome. Two lane road, they drive 3 cars wide, and there are cars parked along the side of the road.!!!! We found our B&B, parked the car and finally let out a sigh of relief. We were somewhat tired, so we had a short nap. We then went out to a nearby trattoria, and had a decent supper. Went to bed early since we wanted to get up early the next day to visit the sites.
Total Mileage: 314 km
June 15th.
We got up early and had a quick breakfast. We were within 15-20 minutes walking distance from the Vatican. The sky looked pretty ominous. We decided to bring our raincoats. Good thing. On our way to the Vatican, it started pouring rain. We made our way to the large columns in St-Peters square. This morning, the Pope was giving his weekly benediction. There were large crowds of pilgrims waiting to enter the square (to get as close as possible). We ha already opted for the museum because of the rain. Once the rain let up a bit, we made our way to the lie-up for the museum. We waited around 15 minutes and we were in. Beautiful works of art. Lots of history. We saw the Sistine chapel. Impressive is an understatement. In all, we were in the museum for 2-3 hours. When we exited, we went to the Vatican post office, and sent some postcards. Once outside in the square, the Pope had not finished the Benediction, so it was impossible to enter St-Peter’s basilica. We waited and when everything was over, we tried to figure out where to enter the Basilica. When we found the line-up, the wait was over 2 hours long. We decided to skip it and come back the next morning. The basilica being an active church, opens at 7 am. We went back to our room and had nap. The sun had come out, and it was getting very warm out. After our nap, we walked around Rome. We visited the Spanish steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the church of St-Ignastius Loyola (you have to see the ceiling!!). We then stopped at a terrace, had a beer, and then made our way to a Restaurant we had seen earlier in the day. It looked great, but the food was average at best, and the service was poor. We regretted our choice. On our way back to our room, we found a nice trattoria, and decided that we would have supper there the next day.
Total Mileage: 0.0 km
June 16th.
Got up early. Quick breakfast. We headed off to St-Peter’s Basilica. Amazing place. Very rich, but beautiful. We saw the tombs underneath. We visited the basilica. We then went to the top of the dome. Great view of the city. By the time we finished, it was past 11 am. We had a quick bite to eat and went back to our room. The sunshine was brutal. We rested. I read a bit, while Ms. Carriedca had a nap. We waited for the sun to start going down a bit. We head back out around 1 pm to find a place to eat. We had a great salad at a small terrace off the beaten track. Huge portions. We then made our way to the Capitoline Museum. We saw the Mamertine prison, the Roman forum, temple of Vestal virgins, and various other ruins. Even with all the sunshine, a freak storm appeared. We had lined-up to visit the Coliseum. We went inside when it started pouring rain. We sat out the storm. The moment it started raining, the sidewalk sellers started pawning off umbrellas. Once the rain stopped, we visited the Coliseum. We then made our way to the Trattoria we had spotted the day before. We had a fabulous dinner. On our way back to our B&B, we stopped for Gelato. While eating our Gelato, we turned around and saw there was some sort of Fair going on in the park. Lo and behold, it was the Vinoforum for Italian wines. They were showcasing Southern Italy. What a way to finish our trip. No great finds, but nice evening.
Total Mileage: 0.0 km
June 17th.
This morning, we are leaving Rome. If you remember on May 24th, in Montepulciano, we saw beautiful leather bound wedding albums. Well guess what, we drove all the way back to Montepulciano to get them. Ms. Carriedca got her purse she wanted. After 4 weeks in Italy, we never saw anything as nice as these. We browsed around. We then drove back to Fiumicano Airport. We stayed at a small hotel. We just rested and packed/rearranged our luggage for our flight. Went to bed at 11pm. We have to get up 4 am.
Total Mileage: ~350 km
June 18th
We were up at 4:10 (we snoozed a bit). Got ready and checked out. Dropped off our rental car, and then checked in with the airline. Our flight went from Rome, Frankfurt, Montreal and then Ottawa. Good flights. Again, they keep feeding you in business class. Customs in Montreal X-rayed our luggage after I declared the wine I brought back (15 btls). They count the bottles on the X-ray. The balance was olive oil. Paid taxes & duty. Went on to Ottawa. We had to go through security again in Montreal after customs. They were going to give us hard time for the carry on luggage (because of the amount wine/weight restriction), but the manager waived us through since we came from overseas and it should have caught beforehand. Arrived in Ottawa. Quite happy. Father-in-law picked us up, He had our dog with him. Got home finally.

All in all, fabulous trip. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to take 4 consecutive weeks again (at least not in the near future). I don’t drink coffee, but my wife made me drink it in Italy. I had Cappucinos. The taste grew on me, but not sure I would go out of my way to have one. We had lots of wine. The people in the big cities are rude. The nicest people we met was when we were in small villages and in the countryside.
We had great food and wine, and not so great food and wine. It was fabulous learning experience. We saw and experienced a whole new culture and way of living.
Italians have got some things right, but we’ve got thing right as well here in North America. I found there were a LOT of American tourists in the big cities (surprising with the exchange rates). In the North, in the countryside, we found there were more Germans and Austrians. We met a few fellow Canadians. We would go back, but now we know where we would go and not go.

This concludes my 1000th post. I hope you enjoyed this.

And now, for something completely different…..
Original Post
Great stories. You brought back some great memories of our honeymoon last September.

I laughed when you mentioned ice in the soda... that was one of our pet peeves... all the soda was chilled... but not cold. We found a butcher in Siena that actually had ice cold Coke... needless to say, we frequented his store. Smile We also had a blast just getting some prosciutto and pecorino, or parmigiano and a nice crusty roll for lunch. Smile
Congratulations on your wedding! Having travelled over a dozen times to Italy, I make these two suggestions: 1. if at all possible, do not travel between Mar.15 and Oct. 15. The prices are too high, from air fares to hotel rooms, and yes, there are too many of us tourists. It's amazing how quiet everything gets everywhere in the fall and early winter, and at half price! 2. So near Montalcino (20 minutes from Montepulciano) and skipped it? What a pity. However, it does urge the opportunity to return. I worked a vineyard there for three weeks last year, amazing food, people, and of course, wine. Yeah, rossos for $8 and Brunellos for $16-25. It would be nice to die there. Wink. Blessings.

Congrats to you and Mrs. ca! You're both wonderful people and I'm privileged to have spent time with you guys.

I'm glad that the majority of your trip was good, but disappointed to hear about some of the less than enjoyable parts - particularly about certain parts that didn't work out as planned (i.e. the Sottimano winery visit, since I recommended it). Next time you go, I'll be sure to give you my phone. Having a cell in Italy can be very handy!

Looking forward to hearing more details about the trip in a couple weeks time. Smile

P.S. - Congrats on your 1000th also. Razz

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