Charming Cefalu- it’s beaches and ancient city

The beach old town in Cefalu, Sicily
The beach and old town in Cefalu, Siciliy

Good Morning Sicily! We awoke from our first night in Campofelice di Rocella and it was already getting hot early in the morning, we were having a spell of high 30’s/low 40’s but luckily our bedroom had air-conditioning or we would have melted. We couldn’t even leave the windows open at night because we were surrounded by orchards and all kinds of creepy crawlies that would try to make their way in despite having screens on some of the windows.  Janet would spray the perimeters each night with insecticide and in the morning I’d have to sweep the carcasses away before she got up so she wouldn’t see what was trying to bunk down with us.  If she saw the bodies she’d be screaming all the way to the nearest Hilton and that wouldn’t be good for our budget.

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Palermo-starting our Sicilian Adventure

Piazza Grande, Palmanova, Italy
Piazza Grande, Palmanova, Italy

Our Slovenian adventure had come to an end and now we were excited to start the last leg of our 10-month odyssey in the south of Italy on the island of Sicily. At the crack of dawn, we dropped dad off at the airport in Ljubljana for his journey home and continued towards Venice, Italy where we would return our rental car and board a 2 ½ Hr flight for Palermo, Sicily. 

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Revisiting Venice, Italy

Visiting Venice, Italy with family
Visiting Venice, Italy with family

Catching up on blog posts from over a month ago…Slovenia and Sicily to come. Leaving Florence and arriving by train we were back in Venice with our kids.  It was much warmer than when we last visited in February during Carnivale but no less crowded and already feeling a little overwhelmed with the mobs of tourists and heat surrounding the city. 

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Stunning Sorrento

Sorrento, Italy
Sorrento, Italy

On our last day in Vico we did a day trip into Sorrento for some sightseeing and shopping that was enjoyed by all.  The weather was outstanding, we had lots of variety from walking through the beautiful grounds of a hotel/villa to sampling local foods and shopping for souvenirs. We were looking at Sorrento as a place to base ourselves for touring the Amalfi Coast but picked Vico, it seems to be downplayed on sites like TripAdvisor but all of us really enjoyed it.  We returned with the kids to Sorrento on our itinerary with them, we spent the day at a beach club and some sight seeing.  They also really enjoyed spending the day in Sorrento.  Here is a link to the Sorrento, photo gallery.

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Coastal Chaos- traveling through Naples to our base in Vico Equense and a day in Capri

Traveling on the high speed FreeciaRossa
Pleasant Journey on the FrecciaRossa

Our few days in Rome quickly came to an end and we were off to Naples via the high-speed train on a pleasant journey traveling to the south of Italy. As soon as we arrived in Naples we knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore surrounded by the noise, smells, crowds and chaos that is the fiber of this busy city!  We rented a car and I was so thankful that Vyse had elected to do all the driving as it was nuts navigating this city, honking, swearing, swerving, breaking…..and that’s just getting out of the parking lot!  There are no rules, it’s a free for all and a big game of chicken when driving in this part of Italy. The four of us with all our luggage jammed into our little rental looked like a comical frat prank on how much can you cram in.

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Bewitching Bologna

Bologna's Medieval Architecture
Bologna’s Medieval Architecture

Bologna definitely left us spellbound and bewitched, I can’t shake it out of my head with a yearning to return like a homesick child.  It’s a modern metropolitan city but at the same time you feel like you’ve been dropped into one of Shakespeare’s Italian plays; Romeo and Juliet, Othello or a Midsummers Night Dream.  Its architecture is medieval grandeur at its best that will have you spinning trying to see everything around you in 360 degrees.  It’s a little rough around the edges, beautiful and boisterous, raw and gritty but elegant and grand.  Try as I might to describe it you’ll just have to come see for yourself one day, if you’ve been you’ll know what I mean.

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Astonishing Assisi

Basilica di San Francesco, Assisi, Italy
Basilica di San Francesco, Assisi, Italy

Astonishing Assisi, although we were only able to spend an afternoon is the small medieval town we are determined to return one day and stay for at least a few nights in this enchanting place.  We’ve said it more than once but this town is at the very top of our favorites in Italy, it gripped our attention with so much character and ambiance.  Perched on a hill in the region of Umbria it is famous as the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi and holds much religious as well as historical and artistic significance.

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Sensational San Marino and Undeniable Urbino

Sensational is a good word for San Marino as it effects all the senses with it’s otherworldly atmosphere.  Arriving in this fifth smallest country in the world you feel like you’ve almost left the planet for a land that lives in the sky, with castles and fortresses like something from a Renaissance fairy-tale.

San Marino, Italy
Top of San Marino, Italy

We visited San Marino by bus from our school in Recanati, it was one of the weekend tours included in our school programs and started with a stop in the small university town of Urbino.  We began our adventure here in this walled city in the Marche region south of Pesaro, nestled in the hillsides of the pre-Apennines.  We had a few hours to tour the town, its famous Palazzo Ducale and museum but we opted to wonder the town taking some pics of the surrounding countryside and visiting one of its many excellent cafes to try some local delicacies.  It was a quick visit but we thoroughly enjoyed our stop here. 

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Kicking of Carnivale 2017 in Venice, Italy

At the famed Cafe Florian in Venice,Italy Canivale 2017
At the famed Cafe Florian in Venice,Italy Canivale 2017

Every year Venice celebrates Carnivale in a big way, attracting revelers from all over the world to partake in the pre-lent celebrations that happen all over the world.  This year the kick off was on Saturday the 11th with the water parade starting festivities that will continue until the 28th.  We mis- calculated the dates as most of the activities peak next weekend with all the big costumed balls and events throughout Venice reaching a climax on the 24th for Fat Tuesday but nevertheless we are having a ball!   Don’t miss my video on the spectacular Water Parade and Carnivale kick off in Venice, Italy- bottom of this post.

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Idyllic Imola

Sforza Castle, Imola, Italy
Sforza Castle, Imola, Italy

The last town we visited before starting school was a town called Imola which turned out to be a big surprise.  We hadn’t expected much and were a bit worried as we knew nothing about the small city.  We had booked an Airbnb there simply as a base to explore Bologna, Ravenna, Ferrara and Verona, some of the towns we had wanted to visit. We weren’t finding any accommodations in Bologna within our budget so we moved our search to Imola and found a great apartment there.  Well our apartment turned out to be fantastic and the town even more so! 

 

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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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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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