Roma

Flashback to eight years ago this week: Beautiful Rome, the first destination of our 3-week trip to Italy and France. We hope to return to Europe within the next few years–the UK this time–and I can hardly wait.

The Colosseum was only a few minutes from our hotel. Notice the workers upon the ledge!

A little verse I wrote in Rome:

Roma

The click on terracotta tile
a welcoming staccato beat
quick-sure heels on cobblestone
we join the rhythm on the street.

Mellifluous foreign banter
fill sidewalk cafes and bars
laughter tinkling, glasses clinking
under the Italian stars.

Heady scent of sweet ambrosia
lips stained red with deep dark wine
swarthy locals’ smiling faces
lovers with their arms entwined.

Tastes and smells are all around us
food and drink beyond compare
warm night air drapes on our shoulders
sated, sleepy, not a care.

Street musicians serenade us
as we stroll our way back home
memories to last a lifetime
summer nights in downtown Rome.

***

Travellers:
What has been your best-loved destination?

La Gatta

Check out pretty little Pippa. She was the resident cat at La Sorgente*, the bed and breakfast we called home during our visit to Baveno and Stresa in northern Italy.

Fun feline fact: the Italian name for “cat” depends on its gender. A female cat is “la gatta” while a male is “il gatto.”

La Gatta in Stresa

“In the little cat’s eye that sees my soul and stares into my heart,
there is nowhere to hide. I see my reflection.” – jenniferkellandperry.com

“Happy is the home with at least one cat.” – Italian proverb

*La Sorgente Bed and Breakfast is near the Alps and on the shore of the beautiful Lake Maggiore. I highly recommend the area as an Italian destination. 

The Real Thing?

Coca Cola
Snapped inside a bar on our visit to Verbania, Italy

Did you know?
When Coca-Cola was first introduced in 1886, it contained cocaine as well as caffeine.

It was invented by Confederate Colonel John Pemberton, who was wounded in the U.S Civil War and became addicted to morphine. As a chemist, he began a quest to find a substitute for the drug. Coca-Cola was the result and was originally patented as a medicine.

It was promoted not only as delicious and refreshing, but as an “intellectual beverage,” a “brain tonic” and a cure-all for “sick headache, neuralgia, hysteria, and melancholy.”

– source: Wikipedia

Things go better with Coke?

It’s the Real Thing?

Hmm … not anymore!

Entranced

Sharing a post today from three years ago. It’s a travel-themed favourite. 🙂

Have you ever been impressed by the beauty of a door? The world is filled with doorways* and entrances, but here are several that left me either pleased by their quaintness, awed by their workmanship, or entranced by their immensity and grandeur. All before ever setting one foot inside.

For starters, a charming little one from the Barbour Heritage Village in my town:

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This entrance in Bonavista with its crisp contrasting colours and symmetry:
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In Montreal, the beauty and craftsmanship of this splendid doorway: Montreal 2009 016

…and how about the opulence of this entrance in Cannes? No, we didn’t stay there… 😉
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We stayed here, our inviting little home away from home:
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The view through our balcony doors was also appealing, beckoning us outside.
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Hard to top the view of Lake Maggiore from our patio doors in Stresa:
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Here’s a closer look of the northern Italian lake:
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In Paris, the entrance…

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Not-So-Obvious Reasons Why Italy Should Be Your Next Travel Destination

Ah, wanderlust. I’m experiencing you again.

My husband and I are beginning to yearn for a return trip to Europe. We are planning on seeing England sometime in the future, but we still get a warm and fuzzy feeling when we look back on our trip to Italy.

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We all know that food is one of the main draws to Italy. After all, it’s undeniable that their pizzas and pastas are the best in the world, and we feasted on both often, during our travels there.

Many people visit the country to experience the renowned cuisine, and crowds upon crowds of tourists frequent the popular cities of Venice and Rome.

But there is more to Italy than these things. Here are some not-so-obvious reasons why Italy should be your next travel destination.

Wonderful Festivals

One thing I hadn’t known when we visited is that Italy knows how to put on a good festival. If we ever return – and I hope we do – we won’t forget to sample a few. In the summer months, there are many outdoor festivals, full of music for locals and visitors to enjoy. One festival you won’t want to miss is the Carpino Folk Festival. It’s the biggest folk festival in the country and is fantastic if you want to listen to some haunting melodies. You can find out more about this festival in this article.

Amazing Craft Shops

Shopping is one of the biggest draws to Italy. The clothes are fantastic, and you wouldn’t want to leave without visiting some of the designer stores. But as well as clothes, there are some fabulous craft shops. You’ll find many towns across the country with stores selling all the craft items you could possibly need. One place to go to is the Palazzo Pitti. As this feature explains, you can find some great artisan shops here, selling ceramics and leather. You’ll be going home with a full suitcase of fabulous finds if you head to beautiful Italy. All you need is the money!

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The Beautiful Countryside in Tuscany

The views are one of the best things about Italy. Places in Italy like the Amalfi Coast are some of the most stunning in the world. If you head to Tuscany, you’ll see the gorgeous countryside, full of vineyards and olive groves that are breathtaking. The Apennine Mountains are a sight to behold. I recommend you find somewhere to stay in the heart of the Tuscany countryside to have an unforgettable Italian holiday.

We stayed in a lovely villa for an entire week while we were in Tuscany, and took day trips to Florence and Siena. Next time, we have to remember to book a trip to a winery for something a little different.

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Beautiful churches

Even if you are not religious, the churches in Italy are worth taking in. For one thing, they are absolutely beautiful treasures of architecture. They were a highlight of our trip and something I will never forget. Just make sure you cover up out of respect when you visit the churches, or you won’t be allowed in. 🙂

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As well as all this, the country has some of the nicest people in the world. My husband and I would go back in a heartbeat!

Have you ever travelled to Italy?
Do you have any not-so-obvious reasons to add it as a destination?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Walls – Part 2

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For one of the weeks of our vacation in Italy, our party of eight stayed in a stone farmhouse villa in the Tuscan region near Siena and Florence. It is known by the Italians as an Agriturismo.

Located in the province of Arezzo, this ancient agriturismo, the Scarpellino, had been renovated in 2005. All of its original architectural details were restored.

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I loved how warm and homey the villa felt with all of its stone walls, inside and out.

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I also loved where it was situated, nestled in the middle of vineyards and olive trees.
Complete privacy was a given.

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Here are some inside shots:

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villa19One would think the hard stonework of the walls would make one feel cold.

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 Perhaps it is my “inner cavewoman” that likes the atmosphere stone walls create.

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The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Walls

Weekly Photo Challenge: Walls – Part I

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Siena, one of our beloved destinations during our trip to Italy,
is a walled city in Tuscany that has preserved its medieval, gothic appearance.
This World Heritage Site seemed a fitting showcase for this week’s Photo Challenge.

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Surrounded by olive groves and the vineyards of Chianti, Siena is set on three hills,
drawn together by winding alleyways and steep steps.

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It offers a bustling life throughout its streets and squares with its many boutiques and shops, cultural events, theater, and a range of sporting activities.

 

The centre of Siena is accessible primarily on foot.

Cars, other than taxis and police, are prohibited, but motorcycles and scooters are allowed.

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Come back tomorrow for a look at some other walls. Arrivederci!

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Entranced

Have you ever been impressed by the beauty of a door? The world is filled with doorways* and entrances, but here are several that left me either pleased by their quaintness, awed by their workmanship, or entranced by their immensity and grandeur. All before ever setting one foot inside.

For starters, a charming little one from the Barbour Heritage Village in my town:

benjamindoor

This entrance in Bonavista with its crisp contrasting colours and symmetry:
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In Montreal, the beauty and craftsmanship of this splendid doorway: Montreal 2009 016

…and how about the opulence of this entrance in Cannes? No, we didn’t stay there… 😉
France 133

We stayed here, our inviting little home away from home:
France 146

The view through our balcony doors was also appealing, beckoning us outside.
France 183

Hard to top the view of Lake Maggiore from our patio doors in Stresa:
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Here’s a closer look of the northern Italian lake:
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In Paris, the entrance to the Notre Dame Cathedral is imposing…
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…and so elaborately adorned.
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How about this golden carved door in Florence?
test1 128Gotta love the Renaissance.

I saved my personal favourite, also in Florence, for last.
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*Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme: Doorways @ wheresmybackpack.com

Relics of Rome

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Seeing the above World Heritage Sites, the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain while in Rome, was unforgettable. Being able to get up close had an enormous impact on me. Have you ever been inspired by a work of art that is also a relic of the past?

See more here:  Scenes from Italy: Rome

Travel Theme: Romance

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City of Love
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Roma!

This is my contribution to Ailsa’s photo challenge at wheresmybackpack.com.  

Happy Valentines Day!