What is Italy known for? Pizza, pasta, Verdi, and the Coliseum? Where to begin, where to go? When life gives you twists and turns, Italy is the place to go. It’s a young country, formerly made up of independent city states – now called regions. Each area has its own personality, its own dialect and its own cuisine. Moving from region to region – and sometimes from town to town – introduces travelers to new local specialties, and it’s a shock to those of us who think we already know what Italian food is. Like Trevor said,”they must have had 99 different kinds of pizza”. French fries on a pizza? Honestly? Is this really Italy?
In Italia, they just add work and life on to food and wine naturally. Everything you see you owe to pasta. Fresh pasta that tastes like nothing like it does here, and the list goes on. The Barrs flew from Barcelona to Turin. It was again a game of “what would we like to see next?” Once they arrived at a destination they hoped there would be WiFi. Each destination arrival was a place to make yourself comfortable while Dad scouted around to see what was available. Trevor said they always seemed to find a place to stay within 30- 60 minutes. Turin the capital of the Piedmont region is a city that has fantastic architecture, and after the Winter Olympic Games of 2006 the city has been restructured and once again gained its splendour.
Turin is also a city of mystery, because it is called “the city of the devil” and has one of the most celebrated relics: the Shroud of Turin. After Turin they traveled to La Spezia where you can purchase an all day train pass that also allows you to hike the Cinque Terre trails. What is Cinque Terre? As Trevor said, the following pictures are not photoshopped. Incredible!
The main attraction of the Cinque Terre is the landscape. Mediterranean herbs and trees grow spontaneously from the top of the hills down to the water level. Well embedded in this magnificent natural scenery, one can admire the intense human activity of the ancestors, when the wine terraces were built.
It must have been an enormous work of transportation, carrying all the heavy stones on men’s shoulders and women’s heads. It was a project of love through the centuries. In fact it’s estimated to have taken about 200 years to build the entire stone-wall network. Its total length has been calculated to be at least equal to the Great Wall of China.
Walking is very popular, especially on the main coastal paths. It’s worth exploring some of the higher paths to Volastra (above Manarola), Monte Negro (above Riomaggiore) or paths that begin outside of the park such as the trail between Levanto and Monterosso.
Traveling by car is by far the worst way to explore the Cinque Terre, because there is little parking. To get from one village to the next involves driving all the way up to the high road and back down again. Sounds dangerous to me and not very enjoyable!
The leaning tower of Pisa really needs no introduction. Together with the coliseum in Rome, I am convinced that many people see the tower as the total image of Italy. The work on the tower commenced in the 12th century, and it began to tilt to an angle even before it was fully completed. The tilting is attributed to the poor foundations which the tower was built on. To get in, you pay around 15 Euros, or you can admire the tower for free from outside. There’s no looking at a normal building again, especially after seeing the tower of Pisa.
Next it was on to Florence where I personally would have headed immediately to the Gucci Museum. Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and birthplace of the Renaissance, is home to masterpieces of art and architecture. One of its most iconic sites is the Florence Cathedral, with its terra-cotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and bell tower designed by Giotto. The Galleria dell’Accademia displays Michelangelo’s “David,” while the Uffizi Gallery exhibits preeminent works such as Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation
On to Venice and what Napoleon once called the “the drawing room of Europe”– What does that mean? You will have to find out next week!
A photo preview of Venice where they celebrated daughter’s Kaceys birthday in St Marco square during a fireworks festival honoring long-ago plague survivors. However, the family told Kacey all of Venice was celebrating her birthday. They were not far off as, nothing ever seems straightforward in Venice and what a wonderful thought for her to remember for the rest of her life.