Bergamo and it’s medieval wonders

The Ancient Center in Bergamo, Ital
The Ancient Center in Bergamo, Italy

Another perfect day trip from Milan is the town of Bergamo, it’s a beguiling city with Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.  It’s known for the juxtaposition of it’s upper ancient city- Citta Alta which can be reached at two different levels by funicular and it’s lower, more modern city. There was so much to see here, so leave early in the morning for a full day and plan to return to Milan later in the evening.  Trust us -you’ll need a full day!  Even better if you can stay over night or take a weekend as it’s one of the most beautiful cities in all of Lombardy and top of our must see list. Below is a short video of our day in Bergamo and continue reading for all you need to know about this wonderful city.

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The best day trips from Milan; Lake Como area and Bergamo

From the dock at Lake Como
From the dock at Lake Como

The best day trips from Milan; #1 Lake Como-Como,Bellagio & Varenna, #2 Bergamo

If you have time to pull yourself from your Milan adventures and want to explore some of the other towns reachable on a day trip then read on.  Milan is a great base for exploring the Lombardia region and is also very close to Switzerland which can be reached by train in a little over an hour.  Here are a few suggestions on some side trips that we really enjoyed and think you will too!

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Terrific and Tantalizing Turin

Piazza Castello, Turin, Italy
Piazza Castello, Turin, Italy

We reluctantly left the warm sunny coast of the Italian Riviera and headed to Turin in the Northwest of Italy with Italia Rail on one of their faster, Freccia trains.  As we headed into the hills we left behind the sunshine and became shrouded in a blanket of grey, foggy clouds and drizzling rain that became the backdrop for most of our Turin sightseeing. Turin is the capital of the Piedmont region in northern Italy known for its refined architecture, many museums and cultural exhibitions, its miles of Portico covered streets, its café life and love of the Aperitivo.

 

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A day trip to Santa Margherita and Portofino

If you find yourself in the Italian Riviera, you must take a day trip to the picturesque towns of Santa Margherita and Portofino to see how the other half lives.  It’s a playground for the rich and famous where the well heeled pull in on their yachts for the upscale shopping, cafes and restaurants.  It was one of our favorite stops and incredibly beautiful, just how you’d imagine a quaint, Italian seaside town. Check out the video of our day trip below, then continue to read about how it unfolded and how to make the trip yourself. At the bottom is a link to our picture gallery of Santa Margherita and Portofino.

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Lovely Lucca

Lucca from a top the Torre Guinigi
Lucca from a top the Torre Guinigi

We  arrived by train from Florence following a little over an hour journey.  Our Airbnb host was gracious enough to pick us up at the train station and in minutes we were at our new temporary residence.  The train station is conveniently located near the center of the city and a few minutes’ walk into the old walled center where most of the exploring is to be had.

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A Day trip to Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

We had a glorious day in Pisa, the sun was shining and it was plus 15 degrees Celsius without a cloud in the sky. We left in the morning from Lucca and walked to the train station where we boarded for a 30 or so minute ride to Pisa.  From the Pisa train station it’s another easy walk of about 25 min. to the Piazza dei Miracoli where the Tower, Cathedral, Baptistery and main tourist sights can be seen. Pisa is easy to get to and well worth a day trip. The nice weather just added to the enjoyment of the day, we wished we had packed a picnic for the park area surrounding the Cathedral but we relished just laying in the campo and taking in our surroundings.

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Fantastic Florence

View of the Pointe Vecchio in Florence, Italy
View of the Pointe Vecchio in Florence, Italy

 

Check it of the list…. Florence is now done and we off to our next stop, Lucca tomorrow afternoon.  Florence has been great, we took it all in at a leisurely pace and opted to just wander the streets viewing the sights of the city as a five day resident. Our Airbnb apartment was fabulously situated, we just had to walk out our front door, over one of the bridges and we were in the thick of the historic center.

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Seeing Siena

Siena, Italy
Siena, Italy

 

Saturday morning we boarded a bus from Rome to Siena and a few hours later settled into our 3-star hotel for a five day stay.  We happened to be perfectly situated steps from the old city center so we dropped our bags and walked out the front door to explore. In minutes we knew we were in the heart of Tuscany, walking the medieval city and it’s labyrinth of narrow, cobblestoned streets.   

 

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Our last few days in Rome, Italy

Click on the pic below for a video of our last days in Rome and explanation below;

After checking off most of the sights on our Rome-to do list we just spent a few days wondering around, getting lost in the side streets and finishing up that list.  We spent an afternoon cruising the atmospheric neighborhood of Trastevere, stopped in a few more breathtaking churches and yesterday we dropped by the Vatican. We didn’t bother going in as they had some lineups and we have been before, instead we decided to save it for the spring when we return with some friends and family.

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Our Italian adventure begins in Rome

The Coliseum in Rome
The Coliseum in Rome

 

We’ve been in Rome a few days now.  We’ve settled into Italian life and I have to say its ‘molto fantastico’! There’s just something about living ‘La Dolce Vita’ that makes me think I could make this place home, if only family and friends were with us. I have to remind myself thought that this isn’t real life, we don’t have to work or iron out an existence here (that’s waiting for our return home) its just about the fun stuff……………………….

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Driving the Southwest Coast of Ireland

At the Waterford Crystal Factory
At the Waterford Crystal Factory

Day One of our Amazing Race through Ireland’s Southwest Coast has us waking up in Waterford and on the move.

Today was a busy productive day, we managed to hit a bunch of sites on a lovely day for a drive through Ireland.  We left our hotel room at about 9am for a quick visit in the town of Waterford, just a few minutes drive from our hotel.  First stop was the Waterford Crystal factory where we quickly visited the shop, deciding we didn’t have enough time for the tour we grabbed a coffee, a breakfast bun and headed out onto the highway. 

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Dublin and strolling along the River Liffey

A Bridge on the River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland
A Bridge on the River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland

We left Edinburgh on a Friday afternoon, boarded a cheap Ryan Air flight and a little over an hour later we were in Dublin, Ireland.  We spent one night DT at a hotel on Parnell street and then moved out to the burbs where we stayed in a beautiful self hosting apartment for three more nights.  We had no problem navigating the buses and finding our way around the city, much was within walking distance from our apartment. Our first evening we headed out to Murray’s Pub just around the corner from our hotel for some dinner and a few pints.  We found out they had entertainment starting at 9 that evening with a band doing traditional Irish music and traditional Irish dancers, problem was we arrived at 6 and had to drag out dinner until 9.  We ate and drank our faces off and managed to stay until 11:00, we totally enjoyed the entertainment which made us feel we had arrived in Ireland.

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The Isle of Skye, the misty island

Portree on The Isle of Skye
Portree on The Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye for me was a highlight of Scotland.  It’s rugged land and coastal scenery was so epic and atmospheric, maybe it was the misty weather that added to the ambiance but the island left a distinct impression.  The weather changed frequently from windy and misty to sunny and calm so if you didn’t like it as the saying goes ‘wait 5 minutes’ but we never minded the wet weather, it was part of the experience.

 

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