Bad Weather Everywhere – Dolly Travels

Author: , June 16th, 2016

Venice storm - DollyDid you think I have forgotten how to write? I have not forgotten; however, I have been distracted.

Venice, with all its antique charms, also had some weather problems that made sightseeing a bit difficult.

Venice is indeed charming, especially when the sun is shining on those red tile roofs and illuminating the white buildings, making them shine.

But wait. Do you see that black cloud coming in from the west? That cloud means trouble.

We carried umbrellas with us at all times. One never know when the rains might come, and when they do come , they can be spectacular. My tour group of last year can attest to that. Last year, we were in Murano when the black cloud appeared over the lagoon. We got onto the vaporetto for the trip back across the lagoon as quickly as we could. While on the boat, the rain came down in buckets. At times, we could hardly see the lagoon. That was pretty scary.

This year, Frank and I did not encounter such a magnificent display of rainfall, but we did get wet and then cold. It was surprising how fast the temperature would plummet. We could be warm, enjoying our gelato and within a half hour we would be wet, chilled, looking for a restaurant that had hot soup.

We did get to see most of the places on our agenda. We were scheduled to leave Venice on Saturday and go to the Dolomites. Unfortunately, for us, rain and thunderstorms, more cold weather was predicted for that area, so we cancelled those plans. For me, that was the most disappointing part of our entire trip. I love going to the Dolomites, especially the Alpe di Suissi area, which was our destination. I did not, however, want to spend all our time in the hotel.

I could not bear to be in the Dolomites and not be able to walk on these trails. That would be torture to me.

With all the weather problems in northern Italy, we decided to go back to Rome. It is warm and sunny here, and Rome is Frank’s favorite city. I wanted to go back to Florence, but it was raining there, also.

Italy’s weather problems are mild compared to what we see is happening in other places in Europe. Paris has been flooded by the River Seine overflowing its banks; there is reported flooding in Bavaria, a rock concert was cancelled after 47 people were injured by lightning. Outside of Europe, I saw on the news that some places in Australia were suffering from major flooding.

So here we are, in Rome again. Frank and I took a long walk up the Via Veneto this morning. When we got back to the hotel, Frank said he had had enough walking for the day, so I went to some of my favorite places by myself: the Spanish Steps (closed for repairs), Piazza Barberini, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon area (Pantheon was closed), Trevi Fountain.

I threw another coin into the fountain to ensure that I will return. I can only hope and pray that this global warming and the subsequent disasters will not continue. We were fortunate that we only had to endure some rain and some cold. I am thankful for that.

More adventures await us. We just have to be patient and flexible.

Until next time,
Arriverderci,

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Dolly Travels: Verona

Author: , July 3rd, 2015

VeronaHi Everyone,

If you look at a map of Italy, you will see that Verona is about an hour’s train ride, west of Venice, on the way to Milano. Verona is also the crossroads of the north-south rail line. To get to the Alto Adige area, Sued Tirol, or the Dolomites, the route north goes from Verona. Verona has been an important crossroads since Roman times. The ancient colosseum, Arena, still holds many musical events, due to the great acoustics of the arena. The biggest draw here is the annual opera festival in the summer.

During Roman era, this arena was actually outside the city walls. Although I have been to Verona several times, this time I actually paid attention to how small the original city was. The main part of the city has the river, Adige, as its boundaries around the peninsula-like area. The ancient city was this small, few blocks long area that had the river on three sides, for protection from the enemies. The gate to the city, Porta Busari, is about 3 blocks north of the Arena. I am not a fast walker, but I covered the perimeter of the old city in 15 minutes, even stopping to look at things.

It is still a beautiful city, with the old Castel San Pietro sitting just across the river at the point of the peninsula. High on the hill a bit north, but above the Castel, is the Austrian fortress, built in the 19th century, as was the Austrian city hall that faces the main piazza, Piazza Bra.

This is the building that was the Austrian city hall. The statues in front are actually part of the stage set for the opera, “Aida”, which was to be performed on Saturday night, in the Arena

The little park in the piazza has a fountain that celebrates the link between Austria and Verona.

There’s a plaque that states that the fountain symbolizes the link between Verona and Salzburg, with the two cities separated by the Alps.

However, history lessons aside, my primary purpose for staying in Verona was to see the opera, “Nabucco”, an opera by Verdi that I had never seen. I love the one chorus number from that opera, “Va Pensiero”, or roughly, ” Go, Hebrew slaves.” This is a biblical account of the Hebrew children of God, being held captive by King Nebuchadnezzar.

The opera was scheduled to start at 9:00 p.m. Friday night, with the gates to open at 8:00. About 7:00, it started to rain. But we had to show up at the gates, anyway. After paying as much as I did for a ticket (not to mention the increased hotel rate), I was definitely going to be there.

We hardy souls stood in the rain, with our umbrellas, waiting for the gates to open. Finally, about 8:20, we were ushered into the Arena. Miraculously, the rain stopped within a few minutes of our getting into the Arena.

The opera did go on, without a hitch. The stage setting was quite simple; the costumes were in keeping with the poverty of the Hebrew slaves, while the costumes for the royalty and the royal soldiers were so beautiful without being gaudy. And the voices! The soprano, who played Abigaill, the king’s daughter, was amazingly wonderful. But for me, finally hearing the chorus sing, “Va Pensiero”, was the highlight. The voices of probably 100 Hebrew slaves, was spellbinding. Apparently, the rest of the audience felt the same, for when the number ended, there was absolute silence for about a second, then the crowd went wild with applause, and “Bravi”, so much that the conductor signaled to the orchestra, and the number was repeated. I have never, ever seen that happen before, but we all enjoyed it as much the second time as the first.

Finally, it was time to call it a night.

I was cold, so I went to a cafe across the street, had an Irish coffee, then returned to my room to get a few hours’ sleep, as I had to leave in the morning for the Dolomites.

The entire 2 days’ stay in Verona, was certainly worthwhile. I hope I get to return another time for an opera experience, although it will be hard to top the performance I saw Friday night.

I continued my journey to the Dolomites, where I am staying now. Here there is definitely the Austrian feeling, from the very good Tyrolean-style food, to amazing beer, and German the primary language.

Again, I am so happy that I have had the opportunity to travel, savor the feelings from different cultures, and I am building a lifetime of memories to enjoy when and if I ever get to old-age status.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Veneto Gay Travel Resources | Other Gay Travel Events

Dolly Travels: Orvieto

Author: , June 8th, 2015

Orvieto - DollyHi, Everyone,

We arrived in Orvieto about lunch time yesterday. Once we got settled into our rooms at Villa Mercede, we set out to find some lunch. The weather is great, the city is just as beautiful as the last time I was here.

For those of you who have never been here, I will tell you that Orvieto is one of the first hill towns that you will see, going north from Rome towards Florence. This town sits 1,000 feet above the valley floor. The best way for me to describe it, is for you to imagine a giant flat-topped mushroom with a big, thick stem, sitting in the most lovely green valley. I hope that when I post some pictures, you will see the resemblance.

This town is centuries old. There are churches from the 13th and 14th Centuries A.D. With all the little rabbit-warren streets, winding around the city, one might be afraid of getting lost. You might get lost, but not for long. Similar to being on an island, you will be on this mushroom cap…eventually, you will see the Torre de Moro, with its clock face, or a spire from the Duomo, and find your way back to your hotel or to your friends.

There were many tourists in town yesterday, so it was not possible to get into the Duomo and see it like I wanted to see it. We did find some great ceramic shops, many gelato shops, and of course, a delightful restaurant tucked away in an alcove, where we had pizza for our lunch.

Later, after an appropriate after- lunch siesta, we all went for walks in the ancient city. When we did meet up again for dinner, everyone had experienced different sights in the city, and it was fun to share our adventures together.

We had a very good dinner at Da Carlo, a Trattoria tucked into a little side street. Carlo was out greeting the customers, and what a sense of humor. He is the chef, makes all his own pasta, and everything he serves is organic. Carlo looks to be around 30 years old…and his Mamma was right there, helping with the serving, and taking orders, but only in Italian. All the tables were outside, and we enjoyed a great meal. After our meal, we decided to try 2 different desserts, to share. I told Mamma what we wanted, and asked her to bring 6 spoons. We laughed when she brought out the tiramisu and the panna cotta, each with 6 coffee spoons stuck into the dishes.

We retired about 10:00 p.m., pleasantly tired. It was such a warm evening, I kept my window open for the fresh hill town air. This morning, about 4:45, just as the dawn was about to break, I was awakened by a bird singing right outside my window. I got up, looked out the window, and I could see it was going to be a beautiful morning. Totally against my usual habit of going back to bed, covering up my head and going back to sleep, I got up, got dressed and went out for a morning walk. Now, those of you who know me well, will find this unbelievable. And what is more unbelievable, I actually enjoyed being up and out. I was almost totally alone out there. Once in a while, an early morning runner, or the garbage truck would go by, but I was the only tourist out there. I was out for almost 2 hours before I made my way back to the Piazza Duomo and found a bar open and had my morning coffee. Now people were beginning to be out and about.

We each did different walks again, today. I loved looking over the Umbrian valley, and seeing the old stone buildings.

Now we must go find food again! I love this! It is dinner time, and so many good restaurants to choose from, most serving regional food, and all fresh and delicious.

Tomorrow we are going to Bagnoregio and the ancient city of Civita. More adventures, more fun.

And thank you, all who have responded so favorably to my blog posts. I enjoy sharing these times with you, and I am so happy that you are enjoying reading about them.

Until next time,

Ciao,
Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Umbria Gay Travel Resources

Dolly Travels – Rome is a Beautiful City

Author: , June 2nd, 2015

Dolly's MokaI am sitting here with my second cup of coffee, enjoying the beautiful early morning quiet of Rome. The sky is getting brighter, but of course, I cannot see the sunrise. There are some lovely old buildings in the way.

I am getting pretty good at making coffee in this Moka pot.

Yesterday I told you only about our first day in Rome. Now, here it is Sunday, and this will be our last day in Rome. Time has flown by. We have walked, walked, walked some more. We have seen so many sights, from the Ancient Rome to the present day cafes and shopping centers, and enjoyed living in our neighborhood, the Campo di Fiori, and being temporary citizens of Rome.

Wednesday, despite the weather forecast of 90 per cent chance of rain, the sun was up, and just a few puffy clouds in the sky. After breakfast of amazing Sicilian pastries and cappuccini at a neighborhood pasticceria, we walked over to the area of Ancient Rome. The first on our list of sights to see was the Colosseum. After all these centuries, it is still an amazing sight.

From the second level, one can look down and imagine what it must have been like in Ancient times. The partial wood floor in the background is to give visitors perspective of the arena as it was in the time of Julius Caesar. The warrens under the floor were where the “performers” were kept until their time to be on stage: Wild animals, people who were going to be sacrificed for the pleasure of the crowds. The Romans were a blood-thirsty people.

After leaving the Colosseum, we walked through a small portion of the Roman Forum. I don’t think one could ever see the entire Roman Forum, if the entire Rome vacation was spent visiting this place. We went on one walk for about an hour and a half, and barely touched the sights. In that area of the Forum.

As we were approaching the end of our walk, we started moving a little faster. Looking behind us, the sky was not so pretty anymore. Dark clouds were moving in, the air became chillier, and we knew we were going to get some rain. We ended our tour a bit sooner than planned and headed back to our neighborhood, which was about a twenty minute walk. Sure enough, before we made it to the Campo, a few drops of rain hit our faces. Soon the raindrops got bigger and closer together. We ran for the nearest restaurant in the Campo before we got too wet. Once inside, we ordered our lunch and watched the people outside scurrying for cover. Soon water was streaming down the cobblestones, and the street umbrella salesmen were having a fantastic business day. Yes…despite a perfectly good jacket and umbrella in my room, I had to buy an umbrella, too. Now I have another umbrella to add to my collection.

After the rain stopped, I did have to venture out and find food for our dinner. Of course, the Mercato stalls had closed at 3:00 p.m, so I had to go further afield to try to find ingredients. This was not an easy task, as the “Supermercato” was stocked with ingredients for easy fixes, not for someone like me who wants to cook from scratch. We were glad we had eaten a late lunch, as our dinner was finally ready about 8:30 that night.

The following day, Thursday, we went to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum. That was our plan, anyway. We got to St. Peter’s about 9:00 a.m. and the line to enter the Basilica was already all around the perimeter of the piazza. We stood in line for awhile, but since we had a timed reservation for the Vatican Museum, we knew we would never get into the church in time to see it properly and still make our appointment at the museum. Therefore, we settled ourselves at an outdoor cafe table and enjoyed another cappuccino, then went to the museum.

The Vatican Museum is always amazing. There is so much to see that, if you saw it all, you would walk four miles. We concentrated on the main sights, ending with the Sistine Chapel.
One of the statues in the courtyard, Laocoon, from 4th or 5th Century, B.C.

We could not take any photos in the Sistine Chapel. It was crowded, of course, but still impressive, the guards were very assertive in enforcing the rules. I have noticed an increase in the number of police and military guards, moving through the crowds. I am glad to see that heightened security.

We went to a nearby restaurant for lunch, then tried to get into St. Peter’s again. However, unbelievably, the entrance line was still as long as it had been in the morning. We called it a day, and walked back home.

I had learned my lesson about food shopping. I went to the market in the Campo when it first opened in the morning and bought the ingredients for our dinner that night, before we set out for the day’s activities. On Wedensday evening, we enjoyed a great pasta with asparagus and mushrooms, the freshest salad ever, bread and of course, vino. No one has remembered to photograph our meals, so you will just have to imagine what our dinner was like. One of the things I enjoy most about traveling the way we travel, is having the apartments, preparing food in our own kitchen and having the camaraderie of sharing a meals with each other, when the laughter and conversation flows as readily as the wine.

There is so much more to tell you about Rome, but this blog post is getting too long; therefore, I will close now and write another post about our adventures of Friday and Saturday.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Rome Gay Travel Resources

Dolly Travels: Our First Day in Rome

Author: , May 31st, 2015

Pantheon Rome

I hope you will forgive me for not blogging sooner. We have been busy!

For the first time ever, all 6 of us in my travel group flew over to Rome together. Five of us left Sacramento early Monday morning and flew to Washington D.C., where we met our 6th person, Shelora, who flew from Portland. Our connection between flights was so tight I wasn’t sure Shelora was with us, till I saw her enter the plane. Yay!

We arrived in Rome early Tuesday morning, with no problems. We went to our apartment, which is located in the Campo di Fiori neighborhood. This location is ideal…we are near a main boulevard and also close to many of Rome’s attractions.

The weather was great, but we were tired. We went out for some food….didn’t know if we wanted breakfast or lunch, so I settled for a doppio caffe and a pizza. We all unpacked, but in spite of my better judgment, we each took a nap. Then we were ready to go again. In late afternoon we walked across the boulevard and in 2 blocks we were at the Piazza Navona.

After wandering around the Piazza for a while, we headed over to the Pantheon. That structure is still so amazing. The original building was a pagan temple, but in A.D. 120, Emporer Hadrian built what we see today. I got a chuckle out of a conversation I had with another Amercian tourist, who was very well-informed about the Pantheon.

I was impressed, so I had to ask him how he knew so much about this place, and he replied, “Rick Steves” and showed me his guidebook, which, of course, was the same book I was carrying. Obviously, I hadn’t read my book as well as the man from Georgia had read his.

We left the Pantheon, and were searching for a good restaurant, when it started to rain. Fortunately, we found a good place. By the time we finished eating, the rain had stopped, and we went back to our apartment.

We all were in bed within minutes of arriving at the apartment. Tired, weary, but so happy to be back in Italy, and in the beautiful city of Rome.

Now we are tired again, after another full day, so I will close for now, and tell you more about Rome tomorrow.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

By AUTHOR – Full Story at SOURCE | Rome Gay Travel Resources

Dolly Travels: Almost Time to Travel Again

Author: , March 20th, 2015

Dolly Travels

Yes! Spring is here. Can travel be far away? No! I am so happy.

In just two short weeks, Frank and I will be traveling to Paris, France, to spend the month of April. I do believe songs have been written about April in Paris.

Frank and I have done this before. Four years ago we rented an apartment in the 7th Arrondissement, our favorite area of Paris. This year we again are renting an apartment in the 7th, but closer to the Eiffel Tower and the Alexander Bridge ( my favorite bridge), and the apartment right on my favorite shopping street, Rue Cler. If you read about this area, you will realize my favorite type of shopping is food shopping. I can hardly wait to be there.

Dolly "Bella" GoolsbyAlthough in this picture it appears to be raining along Rue Cler, I shall hope for more sunny skies than rainy ones. But, I know, Paris and rain do go together.

There are so many things that draw me back to places I have visited before. Paris has so many things to offer: museums, of course, but the things I enjoy the most are walks along the boulevards, strolls through the many parks, visiting the boulangerie for baguettes, the pastry shops in the morning for cafe and croissant. I love stopping on the bridges and watching the boat traffic going up and down the Seine.

Something that I have learned along the way about travel, is to do my homework before I go. I do like to have a list of “must-see” items, places or things I would like to see, and another list of “maybe, if we have time” things. Of course, I do try to leave room for changes. Not everything on the list will get done, and I leave myself open to new experiences: food, drink, side trips, new walks. I must always leave time for changes in our plans.

Luxembourg Gardens. The pond, in the background, is where children have sailed their boats for centuries. Now one can rent a boat to sail on the pond, if that is what you would like to do.

Just the other day I took a 3-hour class called “French for Travelers”. Now I realized I would not learn enough French to be fluent. I have been studying the Italian language for seven years, off and on, and am still struggling with that. What I hoped to gain from the class, and I believe I did, was to learn some of the customs, the words that will help me find what I need, and most importantly, the polite words.

I feel very strongly that when I am in another country, I am a guest in that country, although no one invited me: I just took it upon myself to visit. Therefore, the least I can do is learn the necessary polite words or phrases in the language of the country I am visiting. It really is not difficult to learn the six most important phrases: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me, and I am sorry. I try to learn how a shopkeeper should be addressed and have learned that upon entering a shop in any European country, one addresses the shopkeeper before looking at, or touching the merchandise. Then I would let the shopkeeper help me, if necessary.

At the open markets, when shopping for fresh fruit or vegetables, I know (now) to not touch the merchandise. Doing that will bring the wrath of the person in charge faster than anything! When asked what I need or desire, I simply point to the fruit or vegetable, if I don’t know the name of it. If what the stall keeper shows me is not to my liking, I can politely say No, and the stall sales person will select another one for me.

However, in a supermarket one must put on plastic gloves, choose the fruit or vegetable, place it in a plastic bag. Then I must take this to the scale, weigh it, and a bar-coded label will print out. I slap that label on my plastic sack and away I go to the checkout. Another thing I try to remember, when shopping in the supermarkets, is to bring my own shopping bag. If I fail to do that, and the clerk has to give me a plastic bag to carry my merchandise home, I will be charged for the plastic grocery bags, anywhere from 5 Cents Euro to 50 cents, depending on the store policy. Yes, I have been charged 50 cents one time. And I do have to bag my own groceries.

In restaurants, it is good to remember that I must address the wait person as either Madame or Monsieur (in France), or the equivalent in the language of the country I am visiting. When I am finished with my meal and ready to leave, I must ask for the bill. The theory is that the customers are there to enjoy a meal, drinks, conversation with their dinner companions, and the wait staff will not rush the customers. Tipping is also not mandatory as it is in the United States.
Usually, the bill will say that service is included, especially in France, where tipping is not encouraged.

I want to take time to sit on a bench and just enjoy the view, yes, and perhaps review my map! Traveling can be tiring, so I feel it is very important to “stop and smell the roses” once in awhile. I need to take my time to really enjoy where I am.

I can stop at a cafe for a coffee….feed the ducks at a pond in a park, watch the kids sail their boats on the ponds…

Wherever I am, I embrace the culture. It is different from mine, maybe not better, not worse, but different. I do try to let the local people know that I am really enjoying their homeland and that I am grateful for the opportunity to visit there.

Now here is one of my favorites: embracing the local wine.

Yes, that is me, with a very important piece of culture. This picture was taken in Italy, but I know France has some very good wines, also. So I am ready to do a taste test there.

And I plan to have fun. Frank is just as excited as I am to be taking this romantic trip one more time.

Look for blog postings from Paris. I am excited to be going back.

Au revoir,

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Bolzano and The Dolomites

Author: , September 13th, 2014

Yes, we are now in Bolzano, the beginning of the Dolomites. I am sitting on the terrace in front of my hotel room writing to you and here is what I am seeing in front of me:

Dolomites - Dolly Goolsby

Tomorrow we will be traveling up to Castelrotto, which is in a valley below those mountains.

Bolzano is a beautiful town, also. We are hearing more German language here, although I am hearing Italian, also. It is interesting to hear a shop keeper change from German to Italian to English without missing a beat. I have been using my Italian language skills more the past few days. I am pleased with myself over that.

When we arrived in Bolzano, we were so hungry! As soon as we got checked into the hotel, we headed for the nearest restaurant. Well, I knew about this brewery/restaurant, so we went there.

Today we went to the Archeology Museum to see Oetzi, the man who was discovered in the mountains above here in 1991. He is over 5,000 years old, so the museum dedicated to him is really amazing. We even got to see him through a glass window. He is very well preserved, and it is just so interesting to learn about the many processes used to learn so much about him. And the scientists keep learning even more.

After that, we had lunch, then took a gondola ride up to Oberbozen, a little village above Bolzano. The weather was great, so we had a lovely day. We didn’t do any hiking, but just strolled around the village, taking pictures, and enjoying the view, the clean air, the peacefulness

Tomorrow, as I said, we will go to Castelrotto. I hope our good weather holds up, so we will be able to do some hiking.

Thanks to all of you who are following the blog, and commenting on the posts. I really appreciate that, and hope you are still enjoying following my travels.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | ‎Trentino-Alto Adige Gay Travel Resources

From Rome to the Ligurian Sea Coast

Author: , August 26th, 2014

Wow! Time flies when you are having fun! I realize it has been several days since I wrote a post for this blog. Sorry, as I do want you sharing these experiences with me. However, we had sporadic Internet access, and we were busy, visiting with our good friends, Massimo and Magda Carli, in Viareggio.

Susan and I spent our last day in Rome, walking and walking some more. We managed to visit a few more churches, but the weather was very humid, so we were exhausted by the time we got back to our apartment Wednesday night. Susan had looked up, on the Internet, how many churches there are in Rome. Within the city itself are over 900 churches! We decided we could never possibly see them all! We did find one, right near Piazza Venezia, that looked interesting, so we went in.

The church was huge! It is called Santi XII Apostoli, first dedicated to the apostles St. James and St. Philip, who are supposed to be buried there. Later, the church was dedicated to all twelve apostles. The amazing thing to me is that the church was built in the 6th Century A.D. Think about that! 1500 years ago…it is still difficult for me to imagine how many years it must have taken to build a church like that, with the tools and materials that were available at that time, but it is still standing, and in good condition.

On Thursday we left Rome, and traveled up the coast to Viareggio, where we stayed for 4 days with our friends. I will show you on our map how we are traveling:

Italy Map

The little green line at the left of the map, along the sea coast is our journey from Rome to Viareggio. The red line above that is our trip up to Monterosso, the northernmost village of the Cinque Terre, where we are now.

While in Viareggio, we attended the opera. We went out to Torre de Lago, Puccini’s country home near Viareggio, to the Puccini Festival. There is a beautiful outdoor theater there, where every summer several of Puccini’s operas are produced, with grand professional singers and orchestra.

On Friday, Susan and I took the bus out to the Festival, only about a 20 minute ride. We had already purchased tickets for 2 performances, and Friday night was “La Boheme”. It is a very tragic story, as so many operas are. All was going well until sometime during the second act, a few rain drops fell. The performance was halted for a few minutes, then continued without incident, until the final act. Mimi is on her deathbed, singing her final duet with Rudolfo, who is holding her in his arms, and both are singing their hearts out.

Then the rain started again, not heavy, just a few sprinkles, but the workers came running onto the stage with a large sheet of plastic to cover the deathbed. Mimi and Rudolfo jumped up and run off stage, the bed was covered with the plastic, the musicians in the orchestra all ran for cover.

The performance was halted for about 20 minutes, until there was no more rain. Then the orchestra came back, the scene was repeated and Mimi got to do her final death scene. Somehow, the drama of that scene had been lost. Interesting, though.

We had planned to go to the beach on Saturday, as we had the entire day free. But it rained, so that was out. Magda brought a little boy over to visit, who is name Adonay. He and his mother are from Ethiopia. His mother had been the caretaker for Massimo’s mother. Now the lady is looking for another position as a caretaker. She had returned to Ethiopia for a vacation, and brought her son back with her.

He is a darling boy, 10 years old. He, like Susan and I, is struggling to learn Italian. We each bought him a little kids’ book on grammar and parole, and Magda and I are helping him in this picture. I think I learned as much as he did. It was a fun experience, Adonay already speaks Amharic, the native language of Ethiopia, plus Arabic, and he told me he also speaks English and American. Hmm. Now he is trying to learn Italian. He has not been to school in Italy yet, as he just came to Italy a few weeks ago. We wish him well.

Sunday, Massimo took us on a drive up to the town of Massacciocolo (forgive my spelling, but it is the name of the lake that is by Puccini’s country home.). On the eastern side of the lake is a town of that same name. In 1930, ruins of a Roman villa, dated back to the first century A.D. were found, and that area is still being excavated. A small museum was erected, so we visited there and were able to see some of the ruins. Those Romans were everywhere!

Later, Massimo, Magda, Susan and I went to the Puccini Festival again, this time to see “Madama Butterfly”. Before the performance, we had a light dinner at the festival grounds.

Yesterday we came up to Monterosso, to spend a few days in the sun, near the beach, in a lovely hotel. However, today it is raining, therefore, lots of free time to catch up on blogging, banking, reading.

We don’t have any control over the weather. Maybe it will clear up soon. If not, I might have to write another blog post to show some of the pictures I haven’t been able to send yet.

Keep traveling with me.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Liguria Gay Travel Resources

Our Third Week of Italian Classes

Author: , August 8th, 2014

Montepulciano, ItalyYes, we are struggling upward and onward. We started our third week of classes yesterday. Some of our classmates from the first two weeks have finished and gone on their separate ways. Now we have some new classmates, with a class of 7 of us.

Susan took this picture, so she is not shown, but in the back row are Laura and Scott, husband and wife from Washington D.C, the Harold (pronounced “Arold” in Italiano). Arold is from England. In the front on the left, is Pilar from Madrid, me, and Victoria from England, as is Arold, but they are from different cities.

We have 2 instructors now…they split the day. Today Sara taught the first half, then we got a new instructor, for us. Cinzia, a Montepulciano native, very lively and fun, but Cinzia will not allow any English to be spoken at all. Cinzia split us into groups of 2 or 3, and we had to tell each other about ourselves, what we do for work, or in our free time.

Then she shuffled us around so that we spoke with other students. We did this for about 30 minutes, then we had a conversation with Cinzia. I was pleasantly surprised that I could speak much more than I thought I could, and I did it without my usual prop, a glass of vino. So this class will be good for me.

Of course, we also are learning new vocabulary words, new verbs as well. We are also learning some history. Today, Cinzia was able to tell me that our apartment is in the Contrada of Gracciano. You will remember that last post I talked about the 8 Contrade (neighborhoods) in Montepulciano and how they are gearing up for the big festa, and the Bravio della Botti that will take place the last Sunday of August.

Last night around 8:00, Susan and I went for a passeggiata for about an hour, up to Piazza Grande, then the long way home. There were still quite a few people out at that hour, and the weather was really quite nice….just cool enough to be comfortable. We discovered another park that we will explore one day soon, when we can see what the park looks like. It seems that every time we go out, we discover something new.

For instance, on our walk on Saturday, down to the San Biago church, we went by an old stone house that had a plaque that read “1659”. In the yard were these old statues of lions. I would love to know the history of this place.

Yesterday in the afternoon we met up with some classmates, had a glass of wine at Al Tocco Bar, and studied together. We weren’t planning to do that. We had all just gone there to use the Internet, but it was fun. Jill, from Australia, is in an advanced class, so she helped us a lot. I think the glass of wine helped, too.

Now we have just finished our homework, and we were going to go up to the terrace to relax, and suddenly there is thunder, and huge black clouds over us. Bummer! Well, that is the way the weather is in the hill towns. Beautiful one minute and then a sudden change. The rain poured down for one minute, but the thunder is still rumbling. No passieggeta this evening.

So I will close for now and watch the storm.

Arriverderci.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

Now in Montepulciano

Author: , July 21st, 2014

Montepulciano, ItalyOh, boy,

Hi, everyone.

Susan and I arrived in Montepulciano yesterday. Thank God, we had arranged for a taxi pick-up from the train station in Chiusi, as we had a 25 km. ride with an ? Excellent? Taxi driver from the station to our meeting point in Montepulciano. (I say that with question marks, as the way he negotiated some of the curves made our hair stand on end!) We could not have done this on our own. Now we will get the bus schedule and be able to travel to Siena ( the closest big city) on the weekend, if we want.

This hill town is beautiful. We are so happy to be here. We have a 2 bedroom apartment near the school, near the city center, but tucked just a couple streets off the Corso, so it is quiet at night. Imagine our surprise when the landlady showed us the apartment, to find it has a lovely terrazza off the second bedroom, where we have a great view of the Tuscan valley below the city.

We found a supermarket not too far away, maybe one km., However, once we bought our groceries, it was the same walk, uphill, to the apartment. We bought just enough to have dinner and food for breakfasts, and then on the way back, had to choose from the myriad wine shops, to get a bottle of Rosso di Montepulciano to go with our dinner.

By the way, our wine cost [euro]6..and it is very good. Another BTW, the best white wine served and sold here is Vernaccia di San Gimingnano. As most of you know, San Gimingnano is another hill town, west of Siena, and not to far from here, as the crow flies, but to get there, we would have to go by bus to Siena, and another bus to San Gimingnano.

Today we took a walk through the old town, just to get our bearings. We will start our classes tomorrow, but attend an orientation there at 7:00 p.m. tonight. The school is only 100 meters from our apartment.

As for the language school, and learning Italian…..I hope we made the right decision. I wanted a school where we would be forced to speak Italian. In that respect, we made the right choice. Very few of the locals, even the young people, speak English, and what they speak is directed to tourists. We WILL speak Italian at the end of 4 weeks, or die trying. Fortunately, I know enough Italian to get us food and drink!

If nothing else, my legs will be stronger, I may lose a few pounds, as all our walking is either uphill or downhill, and miles of it.

There are 6 or 8 churches in this town, and they all have bell towers, and most ring on the hour. But they do stop at night, and resume at 0700, except our little guy that is one hour fast…he starts at 0600. That’s OK. Starting tomorrow, we have to get up early, anyway, to go to school.

I have my school supplies: notebook, pens, pencils, erasers. My dictionary is on my computer. Susan suggested that I put a bottle of wine into my backpack, as I always speak better Italian after a glass or two of wine. Hmmm.

So I will say, Arriverderci for now. I will write again after we have our first class.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Southern Tuscany Gay Travel Resources