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Italy 2003 Archives

August 5, 2003

T-85 Days and Counting

I'm testing out my new blog to get familiar with it and to hopefully start making some pre-trip notes.

We're leaving for Italy in 85 days - that we would be my husband, Chris and daughters Becky and Sammi. We'll be joined there by some friends, S, her husband R and their daughter A.

This will be mine and Chris's 4th trip, the girls seconds, and our friends first (well R has been before).

Things off the top of my head that I still need to too:

1. Practice my Italian
2. Find Internet spot near Pienza (Castelmuzio to be exact) so I can keep up this blog while we're away.
3. Get my IDL.
4. Create a rough itinerary.
5. Reserve a hotel for our last night in Rome (we'll probably stay at the Hilton near the airport :( but I need to confirm this).

Okay - that's it for now - let's see if I can post this correctly.

August 7, 2003

T-83 Days and Counting

One of the two big things I obsess over (home or away) when I'm driving to a new place is directions and parking.

So yesterday, I started to check out Michelin to see how their directions work and compare them to my touring club map. I'm being dense because I don't understand them - sometimes they just say 5 Kilometers without a road number or anything. Later, when I'm home, or maybe over the weekend, I'll post an example over at Slowtalk and see if someone there can explain it to me.

I'm starting to think about things for us to do while we're there. I really want to visit Arrezzo on Sunday to see the Monthly market (but again, I obsess about parking). I'm also thinking one day we can head to Perugia for the Fair of the Dead. I know Chris wants to visit some wineries (much to the chagrin of Sammi). I want to set up tours for him at DEI (if possible) since he loves their Nobile, and maybe Avignonesi - although if it's a choice between visiting some places or wineries, I'll choose the former and we'll split up for the day.

One day I'd like to visit Montalcino and Sant'Antimo though I've been - last time we arrived during Siesta and I'd like to do a bit more shopping this time.

Chris also wants to return to Siena and for lunch at Monterrigioni to that place we dined in on our first trip. And lastly, if it's time, there's helping Rebecca and Marc pick olives - they promised us some free oil if we can last an entire morning or afternoon and we're ready for the challenge. So, already the week has filled up - and I forgot our one day excursion into Florence so A can see the David. It's her only request and I want to honor it. Besides, any excuse to return to Gianni e Figlio.

On another note, I've started practicing my Italian again. I'm redoing the first series of Pimsluer tapes (I can invite an Italian man to my place for a drink with ease ;) ) as well as boning up on my vocabulary. If I can start the second series, before our trip, I'll be in good shape. Today I'm going to concentrate on my numbers again - see if I can remember how to count to 100.

Guess that's it for now.

Testing to see if I can figure out why my link didn't work
[URL=http://www.michelin.com]Check Out My Italy Planning/Trip Blog[/URL]

August 26, 2003

T-63 Days and Counting

I've been remiss in my planning but will get my act together shortly. I just want to make a note here that I should print off Dean's Montalcino Food and Wine Resources from Slow Talk to add to my files.

August 28, 2003

T-61 Days and Counting

Italian lessons are going well - I'm about 1/2 way through Pimsleurs first course, hoping to start the second in a week or two.

We heard from Rebecca of InTuscany on Tuesday. R is taking care of sending her the remaining balance on the house either today or tomorrow.

Once I remember to charge up my Palm, I'll probably start some to-do lists. Can't believe we leave 2 months from today!!!!

September 2, 2003

T-56 Days and Counting

R wired the money to InTuscany on Friday. He used his bank, Wachovia. What a rip off. There was a $40 up charge (my bank charged $20 last summer) but they converted the money at a rate of 1.13 dollars to Euro when the rate at the time was 1.08. R is calling the bank this morning to find out why. It's a racket; they get you coming and going.

September 11, 2003

T-47 Days and Counting

New Blog Member
I finally remembered to send Chris and SR the link to my blog in case they're interested in seeing what I'm writing about them ;). Now Chris has the crazy idea that he wants to blog here too - kind of a he-said she-said blog. I just invited him to join but I'll bet you anything he doesn't follow-through (there Chris, I've thrown down the gauntlet).

New Guidebook

I bought a new guidebook and it arrived yesterday. It's Rome In Detail - A Guide for the Expert Traveler. It's published by Rizzoli w/ the IHT. Several different writers have contributed to the publication and I love it! I'm no expert traveler but how many times do you want to visit the Forum and Colosseo?

I'm excited because after skimming through it last night I have several ideas for our time in Rome. My only concern is that the distances on the maps may be a bit misleading, so I'll need to check on that for walking.

First Thoughts for Arrival Day
We've never arrived and had our room ready - really, when you land by 7:30 and are usually at the hotel by 9 - 9:30, who can blame them. So, assuming that's true again, I figure we'll head to either Rivere in the Piazza Della Rotunda across from the hotel or maybe over to Cafe St. Estachio for some Cappuccino and Hot Chocolate after we drop our bags. Then a stroll down to the Campo dei Fiore and if times allow maybe further on to the ghetto. If history repeats, our room will be ready around noon, so we'll return there to shower and refresh.

I'm hoping this trip, we can all sleep better on the plane and keep the girls from napping. If they need to nap, then I'm hoping our room's ready earlier. Anyway, after refreshing, I need to check the location again for Trattoria Lampada. If it's near where I think it is, it won't be far from Piazza Barberini and Santa Maria della Vittoria.

I'm thinking, if the trattoria is open for lunch, we can stop by there about 2:00, otherwise we'll head to pasquale's for pizza. After lunch, I'd like to visit Santa Maria Della Vittoria (open from 3:30 6:00 PM; located Via xx Settembre 17 - by the way what is the street officially called? Venti Settembre?) then head over to Santa Maria Della Concezione to visit the crypts (open from 3 - 6pm).

Though the girls want to visit the crypts on Haloween - I have to admit I find something about that appealing too! I'll enter the church's info on Friday's agenda too for a late afternoon visit just in case.

Thoughts for our Second Day
I'm still fuzzy about how we'll spend our second morning. It will definitely be a "play it by ear" time. SRA will arrive around 9:30 - if they have Sandro pick them up, I may try to hook up with him, and do the airport run. Otherwise, we'll just meet them at the hotel.

If their room isn't ready, I figure they can use ours to shower and nap - if they need too. If they don't need to nap, or just take quick ones, we can stroll over to the Trevi Fountain to throw our coins, then up to the Spanish Steps. No matter how I try, I can't seem to get away from those darn steps. It's okay though, Chris wants to check the watercolors done there and I can definitely get into that.

This time though, for our return route, I'd like to walk down the via di Ripetta to see the Mauseoleo di Augusto and cut over to the Lungotevere in Augusta to see the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) but I'm wondering if it's visibile to the street or open to the public?

That afternoon we're meeting Peter Kilby at the hotel for lunch (Pasquales) then SRA are taking a tour with him of the Forum and Coloseeo. I think we'll stroll over to that area with them but this trip, I really want to see San Pietro in Vincoli (3:30 - 6:00 pm) and Casa di Livia (9:00 - 4:PM). The latter concerns me b/c of the time - I don't know if October will be considered the Winter or not. Also, while the distance between them looks walkable, I'm not sure if they really are.

Anyway - those are my thoughts so far. I'm sure now as I delve deeper in the research, I'll have more stuff to think about.

September 29, 2003

T-28 Days and Counting

It's been a while since I've posted b/c I've actually been spending most of my free time planning.

Here's the current thinking on Itinerary:

Day 1 Arrive Roma
We won't get to the hotel until 9:30 - 10:00 ish I figure b/c of our snafew with our flight (did I mention that here)? Anyway - I'll post about that at another time...Sandro will pick us up at the airport and hopefully we'll make a pit stop at the keyhole as Chris and Sammi would like to see that again.

After we drop our bags (assuming our room ins't ready yet), we'll head across the piazza for some cappucinio, ciocolatti caldi and bombolini. Then we're going to hike down to the Campo dei Fiore and possibly the ghetto for a bit. Both girls have mentioned their desires to purchase shofars which they can use next year at High Holy Day services. My thinking is, if we can find a Judaica store in Rome, that would be an excellent souvenier.

After our stroll, we'll return to our room to rest/shower and freshen up before we make a late afternoon visit to two churches I've wanted to see:

Santa Maria Della Concezione and Santa Maria Della Vittoria (I believe - my notes are at home). I want to see the capuchin crypts and Bernini's Ecstacy of St. Theresa. The girls would rather visit the crypts on Haloween and as I've mentioned while that thought appeals to me, I'm not sure we'll have any time.

Hey - you know what - I already posted this stuff - duh!

Okay - so see below for day one and day 2 - I'm off to planning Day 3.

Day 3 - Vatican
I've spoken with Peter Kibly () and we're going to meet him for a tour of the Vatican Museum this morning. After the museum (which I'm hoping we'll be able to squeeze two hours with the kids, we'll head over to the basillica (or maybe vice versa - whichever).

For lunch, I'd like to eat at Ristorante Dante-Taberna De'Gracchi so we can get a buon riccordo plate - and hopefully have a decent meal to boot. I need to double-check the location but it doesn't seem too far from the Vatican.

I'm leaving the late afternoon unplanned but if we have time, maybe we'll stop at Castello St. Angelo or maybe we'll just hang out - perhaps this would be a good time to walk over to the Trevi or Spanish steps if we haven't already done that.

Dinner this evening - L'Orso Ottanta - can't wait!

Day 4 - Travel Day

We're picking up our cars from Avis this morning (rental via Auto Europe). Sally Watkins arranged the rental cars for us and originally we were with Eurpoecar but we've changed our drop off point to be the Chiusi station from where, we'll train back into Rome rather than returning to the airport.

Anyway - I'm hoping for a pickup around 9:30 and then we'll hit the road. We still have a couple of options for today.

The first, and the one I hope works out, would be to attend a Slow Traveller GTG (get together) in Orvieto for lunch. But I haven't checked this out yet with the rest of our travel companions.

Our second option is to track down the Buon Riccordo restaurant that Grinisa (aka Anita) enjoyed on one of her previous trips - if memory serves it's near Viterbo. Driving there, have a leasurely lunch and then hit the road again.

Our third option will be to drive to Pienza and spend the afternoon strolling around the town, hopefully, have lunch at Latte de Luna. Rebecca and Mark at In Tuscany said no one's in our rental the week before, so if we want to arrive a bit early we can.

Our fourth option - explore Orte (looked really cool from the A1).

My concerns for this day relate mostly to traffic and openings since it's All Saints Day - when will we do our shopping? Will we get stuck in major traffic jams leaving the city - that sort of thing...

We're hoping to join Rebecca and Mark for a drink when we arrive and my guess, we'll stay in that night and munch on cheese, sausage that sort of thing for dinner - maybe make the girls some pasta.

Day 5 - Tuscany

We can either have one of two types of days here and I'm pusing for the first type.

I know it's a haul but I really would like to take the drive to Arezzo to see the monthly antique market.

October 2, 2003

T-26 Days and Counting

I left off with Day 5 so...

Day 5 - Tuscany
As I said, I'd like to visit Arezzo today to see the monthly Antique market. I'm figuring if we could hit the road between 9:30 and 10, we'll get there around elevenish. Again my concerns go to parking (notice a theme here?). Anyway, b/c of that, I looked into driving to a town along the way (e.g., Cortona) and taking the train in from there but I'm not sure it's worth the extra hassle - I'll talk to the others and see.

A few hours strolling around the market, lunch at Buca Di San Francesco (another Buon Riccordo restaurant), a tour of the Piero Della Francesco frescoes and home. That would be my goal for the day with perhaps another simple dinner at home in the evening.

The second alternative would be to explore the area around the house. Visit Pienza, enjoy a long leisurely lunch, catch up on laundry kind of day.

Day 6 Tuscany

Today is falling into place nicely. Chris and I have wanted to visit DEI Winery for a tour for a couple of years. We enjoy there Nobile wines and have several bottles (as well as some of the Santa Caterina) in our basement (and I literally mean basement - while we have a bunch of wine down there, it's definitely not a "cellar"). Well, it turns out Peter Kilby is friendly with the owner Catarina Dei (I think that's her name). So he's scheduling a tour of the facility for us on Monday morning.

Afterwards, we'll visit Montepulciano for lunch and stroll through the town as the shops open late in the afternoon. Sounds like a perfect day to me.....oh I have to remember, I want to contact Bill and Patty Sutherland Tuscan Women Cook to see if they'd like to meet for a drink later this afternoon.

Day 7 - Tuscany
The next four days get fuzzy only because we need to finalize some plans.

Over the course these four days we want to:

Visit Siena
1. I'm hoping to get together with Cristina and receive "The Insider's View" tour. If we can get an early enough start this morning, I'm also hoping to visit Monterrigioni first. Originally, we wanted to go here for lunch but then Chris decided he wanted to spend more time in Siena, so I think we visit here first then head to Siena and we can have the entire day here.

Chris wants to see the Duomo but I want to visit Santa Domenica and see Saint Catherine's head. I know, kinda bizzare but I still want to do it.

Visit Florence
Al wants to see the David, Chris wants to climb to the top of the Duomo and I want to do some shopping. I promised S, from work, I'd get her a Jelly Kelly bag and I'd also like to visit the glove store and Giulio Giannini, across from the Pitti Palace, to get some more journals. A stop in Verrazzano for lunch or a late afternoon snack wouldn't stink either.

Visit Montalcino
I just want to stroll through the town while the stores are open, do some tasting at the Fortezza, have a nice lunch in the area and possibly visit Sant Antimo.

San Galgano
I'd love to see the sword in the stone having always been fascinated by the story of King Arthur - though I'm not sure I can convince the others to do the 90 minute drive.

Explore the Crete
Yes, we'd like to visit Monte Olivetto (which would probably fit in more with a Sal Galgano trip or Siena) and some of the other tiny towns by us, not to mention Pienza.

And of course things I've given up on seeing:

Cortona
Visiting Perugia for the Fair of the Dead

I just don't know if we'll have time.

October 8, 2003

T-20 Days and Counting

We met over the weekend with R&S to discuss our trip, so now I have a few things to take care of:

1. Make reservations at the Accademia
2. Send Sandro of Roma Limo our flight information
3. Check with Rebecca at InTuscany to:
A. Confirm our arrival time
B. Find out if they have a hair dryer (for S)
C. See if we need reservations for Saturday night dinner in town
4. Make reservations to visit the Piero Della Francesco frescoes in Arezzo
5. Contact Cristina to see if she can get together on either Tuesday or Thursday while we're in Tuscany.
6. Make late afternoon reservations at the Borghese Museum (3:00)

As far as the fuzzy days go - here's where we're ending up:

Day 7 - Tuscany
We're going to visit either Siena or Florence today, depending on which day works better for Cristina. In Florence we have a few goals:
1. S, R, and A want to see the David
2. Chris wants to climb to the top of the Duomo
3. S, I and the girls want to shop!
4. Have some wine and snacks at Cantina Verrazzano

In Siena - well that depends on Cristina but I'd like to visit San Dominico to see Saint Catherin's Head :)

Day 8 - Tuscany
Today we're heading to Montalcino to do some brunello tasting, shopping and visit Sant' Antimo.

Day 9 - Tuscany
See Day 7 (whichever we don't do that day, we'll do this day.

Day 10 - Tuscany
It's market day in Pienza so we're going to visit the town, have lunch and call it an early afternoon so we can pack. This night though, we need a special restaurant to celebrate R's birthday!

Day 11 - Travel
We need an early start to day to head to Chiusi to return the rental cars. I'd like to catch the 9:30 train into Roma from there but I'm concerned that may be pushing it.

Once in Roma, we'll return to Pasquales for lunch. Then head over to the Borghese for a late afternoon reservation. Dinner this evening will probably be in a buon riccordo establishment - I always forget this one's name....anyway we'll be hooking up with TravelswithDeb from AOL and her husband.

Day 12 - Travel
We return home today - bummer. We'll arrange for Sandro to pick us up in the hotel and return us to the airport. Yousef will pick us up on the other end and that evening, it will be Chinese food with my parents who will be in visiting from Florida (poor planning) and departing the next day.

October 13, 2003

T-15 Days and Counting

Things are solidifying (sp) even more. I got this stuff done last week:

* We're all set with Sandro for our pick-up and drop-offs at the airport.
* On Saturday, we picked up our International Drivers Licenses and some other
travel essentials (i.e., eye masks and ear plugs for the plane).
* I've made reservations at the Church of San Francesco to see the frescoes.
* Started to print driving directions. I know Pauline can't stand the on-line
directions but I like to have something, plus I'm going to make a connect-the-dots
kind of thing highlighting the towns between our start and end.

Things I still need to do:

- Contact Rebecca
- Make reservations for lunch at Buca San Francesco (buon riccordo place) in Arezzo
- Contact Del Senato for our dinner reservations in Rome.
- Make reservations for Borghese Museum
- Gather all my notes into some cohesive form (e.g., restaurants, things to do,
driving)

I am so excited fo this trip, I feel I could bust. The kids are excited too. Funny though, different from past trips, I'm not feeling stressed about the things I haven't done and surprisingly, I've adopted the attitude, if it doesn't get done, tough - we'll still be fine. A strange attittude coming from me.

Which reminds me, something occurs to me with the driving directions. Often, I've seen signs for cities further than I want to go - for example, around Siena, I've seen signs for Grossetto, Arezzo, and Rome when confronted with three different alternatives, rather than closer cities (e.g, Montalcino). So how do you know then which way to go?

And back to another topic, I'm bouncing around today...we're living dangerously this trip. In previous trips, I've purchased $500 worth of traveller's checks and after each trip, I've deposited $500 worth of traveller's checks back into my checking account, so this time, we're not doing it. I feel as if I'm living on the edge ;)

October 20, 2003

T-8 Days and Counting

I've reviewed my blog to get a feel for what I'm still missing:

- I need to contact the Del Senato for dinner reservaions
- make reservations at the Accademia
- Do my CVS shopping
- Show my neighbor how to use our alarm and give her the key. Her kitchen's under construction so I offered her ours while we're away.

October 26, 2003

T-2 Days and Counting

What's left to do?

Pack
Send out Itineraries to our families/friends who need them
Show my neighbor how to use the alarm and give her the key
Divy up all the great source material from Slow Trav between us and RAS
B&N run to see if they have the November issue of Savior and the November issue of BA (I'm looking forward to this one)
Make sure I print all the contact info I need (e.g., Peter Kilby, Sandro, Cristina, etc.)


Now for the aside because the best made plans of mice and mom's.....

Sammi's been congested all week, alergies we figure, but no fever though she's been out of sorts. Yesterday, while we were carving pumpkins (yes carving pumpkins because this stupid mother told her daughters since they were "missing" Halloween, they could have a Halloween party for their friends 3 days before our departure - yikes!). Anyway..while we were carving pumpkins, Sammi just didn't seem right. She was freezing - now granted it was cold outside but not that cold and she finally asked if it would be okay if she went inside. No biggie - of course I said it was okay for her to go inside.

Afte we finished, while I'm about to make lunch, I notice how bundled up she is while she sits on the couch. She says she's freezing but when I feel her forehead, it's pretty warm to me. Sugar! She's got the chills. A small rectal manuever later, yep - that's 101.9 on the thermometer.

It's 12:35. Normally, our doctor's there until 1:00 on Saturday. Run for the phone - nope - it's the answering service, not enough sick kids in our area and they're gone for the day. Call a medi place in the next town, "Nope, you won't make it here before we close." Well, I would have (you should see me drive) but not the doctor was appararently leaving before closing time (so what's the point). I hang up and we scramble to find another place when the phone rings. It's the Medi place, asking if we had just called. Yep that was us. Well it turns out, one of their former doctors was visiting and heard our phone call. She has an office 5 minutes from my house and was willing to meet us there. That woman single handedly restored my faith in the medical profession (and if you knew what was going on in our state with doctor's striking b/c of malpractice insurance and stuff, you'd understand).

She met us at her office 20 minutes later, examined Sammi, who I think I forgot to mention, is prone to Strep, and said, she can do the strep test but we won't have the result for a few days b/c the lab's closing. So she gave me antibiotics in case it's strep, zyrtec for sammi's allergies, and nose spray for her congestion. Told me she'd follow up w/ me on Monday, and if it's strep, she'll give us enough antibiotics to get us through our trip - yippee.

Well, unfortunately for Sammi, she was shipped off to Aunt Ann's last night so the party could continue. Gotta tell you that child took it like a trooper - an extra gelato for her on Wednesday. Ann said she slept most of the early evening there and sweated a bunch like her fever was breaking. It wasn't. She still felt hot to me when she got home but not nearly as bad and not lethargic at all - I think we nipped this one in the butt - well at least I'm hoping but time will tell today when she wakes.

So anyway, with our departure imminent, I've got the fear of Sammi's illness and the potential fear that Becky will turn up sick in Italy. Yuck. Of course, Chris reminded me, this happened 3 years ago too, two days before we left for Disney. Guess it's the risk of planning an Oct/Nov vacation.

T-2 Days and Counting - Part II

So here's the drill as close to final as possible. Everything's open for debate as all adults agree, we can't come home from this vacation needing a vacation.

Depart Tuesday afternoon at 1:00. Yousef of Edison Coach will pick us up for the drive to JFK. We're flying out of JFK b/c stupid Continental cancelled our flight, didn't tell us, and booked us on a flight out on Wednesday. We didn't want to depart on Tuesday so the best they could do was transfer us to a flight on Delta out of JFK. They're picking up the difference though in the limo ride between Newark and JFK.

5:55 PM Departure. Arrive Rome 8:15 AM.

Sandro from Roma Limo will pick us up and hopefully we'll make our pitstop at the keyhole. Now the rest of this day will be up in the air. Assuming Sammi's well.


Drop our bags at Albergo Del Senato and head across the piazza for some cappucino and bombolini. Then a stroll down to the Campo Dei Fiori and perhaps further along to the Ghetto (if not today than next morning).

Return to the hotel around 11:30 - 12:00 to shower and freshen up. If the kids don't need major naps, we'll head to La Lampada for lunch and what will hopefully be Chris's first of many truffle dishes (I'll settle for porcini) though I am committed to trying truffles again. If they need naps, it will be Pasquales.

After lunch, a visit to Santa Maria Della Vittoria to see Bernini's Agony of St. Theresa and Santa Maria della Concezione to see the capuchin crypts.

Return to the hotel to relax for a couple of hours, perhaps enjoy a pre-dinner proseco to celebrate our 14th wedding annivesary then off to Ristorante Abbruzzi for dinner.


SAR arrive. Slow, relaxing morning, lunch with Peter Kilby at Pasquales for Pizza. SAR will head to Forum and Coloseum with Peter while we head to Palatine and St Pietro in Vincolo to see Moses and the chains. Dinner this evening will be at Piccolo Arancia (with a stop on the way home to throw our coins in the Trevi fountain).


Peter meets us in the morning and we head over to the Vatican Museum. Lunch hopefully at Taverna Grachi for our first Buon Riccordo plate. Depending on how tired we are, returning to the basilica for a climb or maybe Castelo st. Angelo - or maybe just back to the hotel to hang and relax. Dinner tonight at L'Orso Ottanta.


Early morning departure (9:30 ish to rental office on Via Sardegna) to pick-up our two mid-size cars, one automatic, one manual from Avis (via AutoEurope). 2 1/2 hour (probably more) drive to Castelmuzio. R's sister, who's taking a language course in Perugia will meet us there. We'll enjoy a late afternoon drink with our hosts, Mark and Rebecca, and dinner in the evening at the restaurant in Castelmuzio, Il Carmalengo.


Relativiley early morning departure (9ish) for Arezzo to enjoy the Antique market. We have 1:00 reservations at the church of San Francesco to see the frescoes, followed by a 1:30 reservation at Buca di San Francesco to obtain our 2nd Buon Riccordo dish. Dinner at the villa - probably something simple like eggs, or cheese and crackers.


Mid-morning departure (10:00) for Montepulciano where we have an 11:00 appointment to tour the DEI wineries. We're big fans of their Nobile and I think this will be the highpoint of the trip for Chris. After our tour, lunch and stroll through Montepulciano (hopefully the stores will open and we can do some shopping). Not sure what we'll do for dinner this evening.


Early morning departure (8:00)is for Firenze. I'm going to make an 11:00 ish reservation for Accademia so everyone can visit the David. Chris may climb the Duomo but the most of the day will be devoted to strolling and shopping. Hopefully, I'll meet Diva before our reservation and have tentative plans to meet Pauline Priore for a late afternoon drink. Late return to the villa and doubt we'll do anything special for dinner.


Montalcino - departure, we'll play be ear but probably 9:30 ish. I'd love to do some shopping and we definitely want to do some wine tasting. Nice lunch somewhere (unfortunately, bocadivino may be closed so perhaps Taverna Grappolo Blu (sp)). Late afternoon vist to Sant Antimo then home.


Early morning departure - 8:30 ish for Monteriggioni then we're meeting Cristina (slow trav moderator) for the "Insider's Tour of Siena" ;). Also to make a much needed delivery of Nestle Toll House morsels ;D.


Pienza in the morning for the market and some shopping, lunch at Latte dei Luna - perhaps - or just a picnic somewhere. Special dinner tonight for R's 55th birthday!! R's sister, will return from Perugia and her language class to join us.


Early morning departure (8:30 ish) for Chiusi to return rental cars and take the train to Roma. We have a 5:00 pm reservation at the Borghese Gallery. For dinner, we're meeting TravelswithDeb (AOL) and her husband at L'orso ottanta for fairwell meal.


9:55 flight on Continental back to the states with a 1:40 pm arrival.

October 27, 2003

T-1 Day and Counting

Sammi still has a 101.0 fever.

We packed our clothes last night. I'm thinking too much especially considering we'll have a washing machine as of Saturday. Yet we're only in 2 cases (ll bean pullman's the large size and the rolling duffle) and there's room in each.

Here's what we have so far:

Becky & Sammi
3 pairs pants
5 long sleeve tops
5 underwear
5 socks
2 lightweight flannel pjs
3 personal items ;)

On the plane she's wearing/storing overhead
1 pants
1 long sleeve top
1 sweatshirt
1 underwear/socks
1 fleece lined raincoat

Chris
3 Docker Pants
5 Oxford shirts
1 Black Vest
Underwear (lost count on how many)
Socks (lost count on how many)
Shoes
1 flannel pj bottom
1 raincoat liner

On the plane,
1 docker pants
1 oxford shirt
Raincoat

I don't think he's planning on bringing his blazer but I'm not sure.

Kim
2 pairs docker type pants (acctually llbean easy care)
1 pair silk long underwear
1 travel shirt (w/ easy roll sleeves)
1 mock-flannel travel shirt
2 turtleneck type sweaters
1 short sleeve turtleneck sweater
1 flannel pjs
1 pair black shoes
4 underwear
1 bra
4 pair socks

Now, I also packed - 1 pair lightweight yoga type sweats, t-shirt, sweatshirt, sport bra, sweatsocks and long underwear. I hate the space it's taking up but our last trip, when we rented and drove everywhere, I gained 2 pounds. I don't want to gain weight this trip, so I'm committed to walking in the mornings before the others rise. Let's see if I actually do this.

On the plane:

Gray stretchy pants
black shirt
black blazer
raincoat
socks, underwear, bra


I'm toying with the idea of the others all losing one pair of pants but then I think how dirty they get and I go back to leaving it as is.....times like this I wish people could reply b/c I'd like some other opinions.

October 28, 2003

T-4.5 Hours and Counting

Sammi's fever is down to 99.9.

Made reservations this morning for the Accademia, 7 people at 11:00.

Need to finish miscellaneous packing.

October 29, 2003

T+5 Hours

Arrived a few minutes early. Claudio (I think) met us at the airport. Arrived hotel fine (bit of rush hour traffic). Room not ready until 1:30.

Dropped bags and realized cough syrup leaked in my healthy bag, yuck. Cleaned it out and went across the piazza for cornetto con crema, bombolini, 2 hot chocolates, cappucinio and espresso - made the mistake of sitting - ouch almost 20 E. Really, had to sit though - who could trust the kids not to spill HC down their shirts, standing.

After breakfast, walked to Campo Di Fiori via Piazza Navona. Spent some time quizzing kids 1) who made the statue 2) which river hides his face, etc., they actually liked that.

Becky made sure we eyed ever single stall at the campo, especially the ones selling cheap jewelry.

Walked towards ghetto. Spent some time exploring Porto de Octavia and Teatro Marcello. Strolled around synagogue then returned to hotel via Torre di Agrintina (sp). Kids love cats. There is a tour on Sat at 3:30. Maybe on the 8th if we have time, we will do it.

Returned to hotel, room still not ready. Went for first gelato, becky & sammi had carmello. Sammi didn't like, bummer. I had banana. It was okay - didn't seem fresh. Have to remember to get name of place.

Went to Pantheon (Sammi has been nagging all morning to go). Strolled around, quized kids again then returned to hotel.

Hotel could not get through to La Lampada for lunch, kids and us a bit tired so we opted for Pasquales pizza instead. 1 large beer, 2 coca colas, 2 slices plain, 1 slice artichoke and 1 slice funghi - 13 Euro.

Upstairs ran into Peter. He trained down with a family from Las Vegas who are staying in Tuscany. Just here for the day.

Starts to pour while we eat (until then just sprinkles here and there). We wait for the rain to stop then walk back via del Corso so Chris can try to find store he thought was there that sells soccer jersies. Could not find. Teems as we turn corner to head back towards pantheon.

Return to hotel, room ready in 10 minutes. Girls suggest a quick run across to see Pantheon again, with rain streaming through hole. Chris waits at hotel. We forget umbrellas. Every umbrella hawker in the area swarms us.

Pantheon pretty cool in the rain - with bright light, it almost seems as if it is snowing. Run into Peter there too - "stop following me" he jokes.

Back to hotel for this blog entry and to finally get into our room.

November 1, 2003

T+4 Days

Arrgh...Computer crashed after about 5 minutes of typing.

Okay as I was saying .....

Wednesday the plan had been to rise after a nap about 4 and head to Santa Maria Della Concezione and Santa Maria Della Vittoria. But the girls seemed tired so we opted to let them sleep a bit longer then showered and headed downstairs for cocktails before dinner.

Michele after a moment remembers us (pretty good for 16 months later and all the customers he has had...or pretty bad ;)...anyway, we start with prosecco for me, a tuscan red for Chris and of course 2 coca colas for the kids. We toast our anniversary and Michele brings us the usual assortment of olives, chips and some mock chex party mix kind of thing.

Okay the computer keeps losing connection, and I need to wake the crew so I am ending this. Everything is going well. We are heading to Villa Nell Olliveto this morning. Hopefully will find a place with access sometime this week to update the blog but we will see.

November 5, 2003

T+8 Days

Castelmuzio has an internet point in the bar, can you believe it??

I am just giving the highlights now because there is so much and I find typing with the Italian keyboard very frustrating.
Wednesday night we returned to Abbruzi for dinner (1 Via Vaccaro) food still basic and good.

Thursday, SRA arrived in the morning while we were downstairs having breakfast. Sammi is doing better but not great. They look exhauseted - they did not get much sleep on the flight over. After they freshen a bit, we pretty much repeat the stroll we took on Wed, through Piazza Navona, down to Campo dei Fiore and into the ghetto. Along the way Chris buys a pretty spiffy hat, I buy a mezzuzzah for a friend and Sammi and A buy little model smart cars.

That afternoon, we have lunch with Peter Kilby then SRA go off with him for a tour. We visit Palatino Hill which is great fun for the kids, peaceful and with some beautiful views. Then, though exhausted, hike up to St. Piero in Vincoli to see the Moses. It is closed - bummer!!!! For the next four weeks (until about Nov 16), they are closed all afternoon while they film something. We hike back down to coloseum and taxi back to Piazza di Gesu where we stroll to Entocca Corsi for a drink. Back to room to relax, shower and freshen up.

Let us see, after pre-dinner drinks at the bar we went to Piccolo Arancia for dinner Wednesday night. Food was good but the restaurant was very crowded with a large party that took up most of the main room which made for some cramped dining. Oh and stopped along way to throw our coins in Trevi.

On Friday, we met Peter Kilby early in the morning 8:30ish for a tour. We visited two churches on our side of the Arno to see some Caravagios and Rafaels then took 2 taxis to the Vatican Museum, no line. Strolled through there (took the correct door when we left) and ended up right in the Basilica. We parted, Peter went to catch a train back to Montepulciano, and we spent some time in the Basilica. Then a hike to Taverna Grachi for our first Buon Riccordo plates!!!

That afternoon we split up, SRA, went to Coloseo and Forum, we went back to the room to relax. Sammi is coughing and I want to slow the pace down a bit for her. Becky and I soon get antsy so we hop a bus to Santa Maria Della Concezione to see the crypts while Chris and Sammi continue to hang.

We all meet up later that night and return to Abruzzi for another good basic dinner. Yum, one last gelato in Roma (by the way the place next to the hotel, not the cafe but to the left of the cafe as you are facing the hotel has really good gelato), then off to bed.

We rise relatively early, grab our stuff and take two taxis to Avis on Via Sardenga to pick up rental cars. SRA gets an upgrade on their manual which comes with a cd player, we do not :(. It is cloudy and rainy but the drive is not bad getting to the Bettole exit on the A1 - just a bit of traffic.

Yikes, I should have taken Pauline's directions to Castelmuzio instead of using Rebecca's. We got pretty lost (30 minutes worth) but eventually made it to Castelmuzio. Even on this dank day we could see how beautiful the area was, is.

We arrived about 2:30 to a roaring fire in the wood burning stove. Love it. We unpack, start some laundry, explore the town, drink some wine, and wait for R's sister, who is late. She arrives about 6:30 and we drink more wine then walk to dinner... other than our adventure around Sinalunga, an easy day.

Sunday it is up early and a drive to Arezzo. Find easy parking just past the train station and let the shopping begin. It is the monthly antique market and all three girls (not including S and I) go bugeyed as they examine every item at every stand.

We visit the frescoes, have an amazing lunch at Buca San Francesco, where we get our second and final plate! then stroll through the market some more. We say good buy to K, R's sister and her boyfriend as they head back to their normal lives and we return to the villa without getting lost in Sinalunga. Of course, R made a wrong turn in Arezzo, so we tracked him down and led him back to the Autostrada. That night, just some snacky food and off to bed.

Monday we visited San Biagio and DEI winery - good tour and tasting, picked up a bunch of wines then drove to Montichiello for lunch at La Porta. Yikes - poor Sammi (who buy the way is doing better), gets terribly car sick on those switchback turns. La Porta is excellent, go. We stroll through the town, then return to Castelmuzio via Pienza. Dinner that night, in town while girls stay by themselves at the house (more on this later).

Yesterday, a long and exhausting day up to Florence. We left about 8:15 and returned home around 8:15. Saw the David, met Judy in the Centro Mercato (BTW Judy - we must have just missed you, we had to pick up a jacket for S and left Verazzano about 5:10 :(. , climbed the Duomo (well the men and kids did), had lunch, bought S a leather jacket at NOI, visited Santa Croce, had drinks at Verazzano, and drove home - yikes. BTW - parking at Porta Romana worked well.

Today, off to Montalcino for some brunello. Ciao

November 7, 2003

T+9 Days

Okay let's see....Wednesday after I left here, I returned to Villa Nell'Olivetto to find everyone but Chris picking olives with Mark and his crew. The girls looked so cute with the baskets strapped around their waists. So of course, I shed my blazer and helped too. Eventually Chris joined us and we spent the next two hours picking olives, only the low branches as none of us climbed any ladders. I could have spent the entire day doing it! Around 12 though, our stomaches started to rumble, so we piled into the cars and headed for Montalcino.

BTW the navigating dot to dot (i.e., town to town) works great. We went to Montalcino, via San Giovani Di Asso, some other town, then were pretty much able to follow sings for Montalcino. We parked behind the fort in a free lot and climbed into town. Lunch was at a very small family trattoria - delicious and plentiful. Then we strolled through town, did some wine tasting (not at the fort - too crowded) but at Osteria something something (don't worry I have the names somewhere), then headed home.

Chris and I continued on the Sinalunga to the Coop to pick up something for dinner as we ended up cooking in Wed and Thursday night.

Yesterday, we met Cristina in Siena - what a trip. She is fantastic and a wonderful guide. I really do like Siena and definitely want to spend more time there. To me, it feels more of a "living city" than Florence. Oh and since you know my obsession, we did the dot to dot method again (Trequanda, Asciano, Arbia, Siena) and parked easily at the San Francesco parking outside the city walls.

We returned home early (actually our earliest night - about 5), visited the local coop for some bread but they were out and made an early dinner.

Today it is raining - that type of all day steady rain. Hey I walked 3 KM to Petroio this morning (each way), so anyway, we are taking it easy, maybe heading to Pienza to pick up some lunch munchie foods, relaxing and unfortunately packing.

Tomorrow it is back to Rome. I may try to do one more entry then. Sunday, it is back to the airport and home. Ciao

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