Greetings From Italia – Dolly Travels

Author: , October 20th, 2019

Greetings From Italia - Dolly Travels

The first two days we were in Italy, we spent in Venice. Venice is lovely, as always. We were very tired when we finally got to our hotel on Wednesday. We had to spend some time just finding the hotel. Nothing is easy to find in that city, as the streets wind around small canals. We crossed many bridges, and just when we found the street, it came to a dead end. It did take up again on the other side of a small canal. You would think I would be used to getting lost in Venice, as I have done that so many times.

When we finally found the hotel, we put our things in our room and set out to find a good place to have some dinner. We found a small, out of the way ristorante. We enjoyed some pasta with clams, then we went right back to the hotel, as we were very tired.

Imagine our surprise the next morning to be awakened by singing gondoliers. We looked out our window, but we saw only a small piazza. Once we were dressed and went out exploring, we discovered that our hotel (our room) backed up to a gondolier stop.

Full Story at Dolly Travels

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More From the Dolomites – Dolly Goolsby

Author: , September 19th, 2018

Good evening, all,

We had another adventure on the mountains this morning. Today, the weather was quite different from yesterday. There was a cloud cover and it was pretty breezy and chilly, once we got up to Compatsch. I took it easy today, only taking a cable car up to Puflatsch and back again. However, the view from up there made me so happy just to be up in those mountains.

However, after I had some coffee at the restaurant, I walked out and looked toward the west. I love this view, for you can see across the top of Italy, into Austria. If there weren’t any clouds, I believe you could see to Switzerland.

The kids weren’t deterred by the weather. They took the Trail of the Witches, up to the Witches’ Benches, following the path that overlooks the valley and the villages down below.

I have never seen fuzzy cattle before. After I saw the picture, I knew I would have to make that hike myself, just to see these guys up close. Mama cow has already shed her winter coat, by rubbing it off on the trees. I think she is trying to help her baby get that old stuff off. Mama really needs to get her bangs cut.

My way of relaxing is just to view this peaceful valley with the grand mountains in the background. Although I did not hike today, I found my happy place where I could simply absorb the beauty of the Alpe di Suisi meadow.

Tomorrow will be another day for exploring up on the Alpe di Suisi. I will write more about that after we get back from that adventure.

I hope you are enjoying the Dolomites with us.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

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Vernazza: Beauty, Disaster and Recovery – Dolly Travels

Author: , September 10th, 2018

Vernazza - Dolly Travels

Buongiorno, tutti,

We started our morning at the Il Pirata Bar at the top of the town. This restaurant has the best pastries; all are made on the premises. Their reputation has made this small place such a popular breakfast place, that one must get there early to get a table.

While we were enjoying our delicious pastries, we began talking with the couple who sat next to us. By the end of our breakfast we were best friends. We had such a good time with them. We discussed our plans for the day, and before we knew it, we had learned far more about each other than I know about my next door neighbors at home.

Soon, though, we all went our separate ways. I love the way that travel allows me to meet such interesting people as I go along.

The kids had their own plans for the day, so here I am, telling you about my day.

I am sitting at the Ananasso Bar again. Lest you think that I might do this too often, this bar sits right at the harbor’s edge. From here, I can look out at the little cove, where people are swimming. I can see the boats in the harbor and look beyond to the town of Monterosso. Over to my left and closer to the harbor is the good pizza restaurant that we visited yesterday. So, you see, my perch here, for the price of a drink, is perfect.

Today, I went for a walk up through town, past the Il Pirata Ristorante, where we had breakfast this morning. I walked up the road while following the little stream that starts somewhere up above, then flows down through the town. I remembered well, the deluge of October, 2011, where the rains came down so hard and for such a long time, that the mountains washed down into that stream, pushing homes, cars and anything in its path, into that stream, until the town was flooded with mud, debris up to the second story of the buildings.

Today, as I walked through the town, seven years after that disaster, I felt that the people of Vernazza have made a remarkable recovery. Although reconstruction is still going on in some areas: rock walls are being rebuilt, some facades of buildings still need to be repaired, life goes on as before.

As I sit here, watching the tourists, I wonder how many of them know the calamity that besieged the town those years before. I watch the people that work in the shops and the restaurants; I see them wait on the customers, and they are so kind, so patient. They are indeed lovely people.

Vernazza is one of the five villages in a unique area. During the day, the little town is filled with tourists. Many people come here to hike the trails between the villages. I honestly don’t know why the cruise ship passengers come here. When those cruise ships unload their tenders, the town is immediately flooded with up to five hundred extra people; more than the town can comfortable accommodate.

However, when evening comes; the town settles down and becomes an almost-quiet village. The people of Vernazza are resilient. They have rebuilt their town and life goes on in this little city as if the disaster never occurred.

My point in writing this blog post is to remind all of us, that no matter what life hands us, we have the choice to adapt, rebuild, and get on with things, or curl up and admit defeat. I want to pattern my life after the citizens of Vernazza: there is always light at the end of the tunnel, if I choose to follow it. Or I can let the small disasters get me down.

I am inspired by the people of the town of Vernazza.

Until next time,
Arrivederci,

Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

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Cinque Terre – Dolly Travels

Author: , April 13th, 2018

Cinque Terre - Dolly

Today I want to continue writing about places in Italy that I will visit on my next trip, which is coming up pretty soon. Cinque Terre is one area that we will visit, and we will stay there for a few days.

Cinque Terre is unique, in that the area is comprised of 5 villages that hug the Ligurian Coast. These villages are isolated from the main body of Italy by rugged mountains at their back and the sea in front of them. For centuries, the primary commerce of this area has been fishing and that continues. Now there are also vineyards planted on the steep terraces. Lemon trees grow wherever they can gain a foothold.

Cinque Terre - Dolly

That little red line on the western edge of Italy denotes the location of Le Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre - Dolly

The villages, as viewed from the sea, look like colorful toy buildings that have been super-glued to the mountainsides. Corniglia, the middle village of the five, sits on a steep mountain. It is the only one of the villages that does not have direct access to the sea.

To get to the Cinque Terre, one takes a train to La Spezia, then change trains to a regional one that will stop at each of the small stations. The trip from La Spezia to Riomaggiore, the first of the little towns, takes about 4 minutes. The next stop, Manarola, is another 2 to 3 minutes, then Corniglia station is another few minutes; likewise, Vernazza then the last of the villages, Monterosso, takes 3 minutes from Vernazza. So, you can see, if you travel by train, the villages are very close to each other. However, many tourists come to the area to hike the trails that connect these towns.

There are two main trail systems here: the “Short Trail”, the one most familiar to hikers, follows the coastline for most of the hike; although the trail is usually high above the sea, the hiker has a scenic view from start to finish.

The second trail, the “High Trail”, runs above the towns, but the view from that high up is fantastic. That trail is longer, but as of this moment, that trail is open, while the Short Trail is only open from Vernazza to Monterosso, and possibly Vernazza to Corniglia. That depends on the weather and landslide conditions. The Short Trail has had sections closed since 2012, due to landslides, with no time frame in sight for getting them open again. That is sad, for those trails were such a remarkable adventure, and could be done from start to finish in a few hours.

In the past, for centuries, the only way to go from one village to another was by the trails, which were steep and not well-maintained. Therefore, when a tunnel was carved through the mountain that connected Riomaggiore and Manarola, the villagers could then visit with each other. More importantly, to some, the young people could form friendships and romances with young people from the other village. The path through the tunnel became known as the Via dell’ Amore, the “Road of Love”.

Cinque Terre - Dolly

This is the famous metal sculpture within the tunnel of the Via dell’ Amore. Note the padlocks on the railings. Supposedly, lovers would put the lock on the railing, then throw the key into the sea. That meant their love would last as long as the padlocks stayed on the railing. However, I noted that some of the locks were combination-type locks. What does that mean?

This part of the trail is now in a section that is closed, due to landslides. I hope it will soon be repaired and open again.

Cinque Terre - Dolly

Monterosso has the best beach area of all the villages. I love to come here, rent a chair and an umbrella for the day, and just hang out at the beach. The water is clear, and warm enough to enjoy a swim.

This area, Le Cinque Terre, is one of the most popular areas of Italy for tourists to visit. It has become quite crowded during the summer season, but I still like to be there. As I usually stay a few days, I find places to go that are quiet, when the main piazze are filled.

The older area of Monterosso is one place that I have found that is more peaceful.

I hope you have enjoyed my little travelogue about Cinque Terre. Put this area on you Bucket List to visit when you go to Italy.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

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Old Town Puerto Vallarta – Dolly Travels

Author: , February 15th, 2018

Old Town Puerto Vallarta

Hola, once more.

This will be my last blog post from Puerto Vallarta this year. Next year, I hope to spend longer than a week. I love this town.

When I told the kids that I wanted to go back to explore Old Town Vallarta, Rob asked me, “What will you do there?”

“Oh, just walk around, and see what the Old Town is like,” was my reply. What I really thought was, it will be more “What can I learn by going back there:” Rather than what can I do there.

I took the bus to town again, by myself. I call it the “Chicken Bus”. Although no one here is transporting chickens, the buses look similar to the ones I have seen in other places of Mexico and Costa Rica, where cages of chickens were being carried on top of the buses.

The bus stop is on the street in front of our hotel entrance. The fare is 7.50 pesos, which is about 42 cents in US money.

After a bumpy ride, for most of the streets are made of cobblestones, and I am sure the buses do not have the best springs, I arrived in the main part of Puerto Vallarta, near the Cathedral of Guadalupe. I knew I wanted to go further east, into the old town from that church, so I followed the streets that Chef Julio had taken us on, the other day when we went to the Mercado.

There is a river that empties into the sea, at the southern end of the main part of town. This river, the Cuale River, creates an island called the Isla Cuale. Now it is a lovely park.

A staircase crosses the river on the north side, and leads to an upper affluent neighborhood, where Elizabeth Taylor lived, while she was filming the movie, “The Night of the Iguana”. That movie brought Puerto Vallarta to the attention of travelers, and as the locals tell me, that was the beginning of the town becoming a tourist attraction.

A statue of John Huston sits at the entrance to the park. That man was the director of the movie, “The Night of the Iguana”. He made the film here, as he had already fallen in love with Puerto Vallarta. In fact, his home was at Las Caletas, the beach where we saw “Rhythm of the NIghts”. He gave that property to the town of Puerto Vallarta.

As I walked further into Old Town, I saw the everyday life of those residents, going on quietly, without the hustle and bustle of the touristy part of town.

I found the Mercado again, and after a few more blocks, the streets ended, so I made my way back toward the main part of Puerto Vallarta.

At the very western end of the park, I found a small restaurant that served breakfast. Although it was almost noon, I decided to have brunch instead of lunch.

This cafe, called “Incanto”, had a guitarist playing soft music for the patrons.

On the other side of the river is another restaurant that was closed, for workmen were trimming a large bamboo tree that sat at the end of the restaurant. The roots of that tree were actually down at the river’s edge.

There was a man with a machete trimming a tree by the river. The branches fell at the river’s edge, and two more workmen went down there and piled the branches up. Then the machete man went down there and trimmed those branches into tall poles, and stacked them up . All the work was done with a machete. And it was all done while I was having my meal.

« Rhythm of the NIghts and Other Adventures in Puerto VallartaWarm Places »
Old Town Puerto Vallarta
January 16, 2018 by dollygoolsby
2 Votes

Hola, once more.

This will be my last blog post from Puerto Vallarta this year. Next year, I hope to spend longer than a week. I love this town.

When I told the kids that I wanted to go back to explore Old Town Vallarta, Rob asked me, “What will you do there?”

“Oh, just walk around, and see what the Old Town is like,” was my reply. What I really thought was, it will be more “What can I learn by going back there:” Rather than what can I do there.

I took the bus to town again, by myself. I call it the “Chicken Bus”. Although no one here is transporting chickens, the buses look similar to the ones I have seen in other places of Mexico and Costa Rica, where cages of chickens were being carried on top of the buses.

The bus stop is on the street in front of our hotel entrance. The fare is 7.50 pesos, which is about 42 cents in US money.

After a bumpy ride, for most of the streets are made of cobblestones, and I am sure the buses do not have the best springs, I arrived in the main part of Puerto Vallarta, near the Cathedral of Guadalupe. I knew I wanted to go further east, into the old town from that church, so I followed the streets that Chef Julio had taken us on, the other day when we went to the Mercado.

There is a river that empties into the sea, at the southern end of the main part of town. This river, the Cuale River, creates and island called the Isla Cuale. Now it is a lovely park.

A staircase crosses the river on the north side, and leads to an upper affluent neighborhood, where Elizabeth Taylor lived, while she was filming the movie, “The Night of the Iguana”. That movie brought Puerto Vallarta to the attention of travelers, and as the locals tell me, that was the beginning of the town becoming a tourist attraction.

Some of the homes up in that neighborhood now.

A statue of John Huston sits at the entrance to the park. That man was the director of the movie, “The Night of the Iguana”. He made the film here, as he had already fallen in love with Puerto Vallarta. In fact, his home was at Las Caletas, the beach where we saw “Rhythm of the NIghts”. He gave that property to the town of Puerto Vallarta.

As I walked further into Old Town, I saw the everyday life of those residents, going om quietly, without the hustle and bustle of the touristy part of town.

The apartments are newer, the streets are quiet. The tangle of electrical wires overhead is a bit disconcerting.

I liked this place. I think it is a restaurant below, but the tower had small tables and chairs on three levels. It must be a good place for Happy Hour, for a few people

I found the Mercado again, and after a few more blocks, the streets ended, so I made my way back toward the main part of Puerto Vallarta.

At the very western end of the park, I found a small restaurant that served breakfast. Although it was almost noon, I decided to have brunch instead of lunch.

This cafe, called “Incanto”, had a guitarist playing soft music for the patrons.

You can see the river flowing below the deck. On the other side of the river is another restaurant that was closed, for workmen were trimming a large bamboo tree that sat at the end of the restaurant. The roots of that tree were actually down at the river’s edge.

I don’t know if you can see him, but at the right side of the tree, standing on a 12-foot ladder, is a man with a machete trimming that tree. The branches fell at the river’s edge, and two more workmen went down there and piled the branches up. Then the machete man went down there and trimmed those branches into tall poles, and stacked them up . All the work was done with a machete. And it was all done while I was having my meal.

After my wonderful breakfast and the best cup of coffee I have had , I meandered back into town.

The peaceful River Cuale.

The Crown Dome of the Cathedral

One of the many sculptures along the Malecon.

I finished my day in town by walking the length of the Malecon, then I caught another “Chicken Bus” and made my way back to our hotel.

Later, as we were waiting for our dinner, at Victor’s at the marina., I had time to contemplate what a relaxing week we had enjoyed. Although we were active, we were never stressed. I enjoyed the non-stress times immensely.

So here I am, dreaming of my return to one of my favorite cities . Puerto Vallarta.

Adios, Puerto Vallarta, until next year.

Florence, Again – Dolly Travels

Author: , November 4th, 2017

Duomo - Florence - Dolly Travels

Frank and I have been busy, seeing some of the places we have enjoyed before, in Florence, and finding a couple of new and interesting places. Both of these new places will go into our “favorites” collection.

Sunday, we had some drizzling rain in the morning. However, right next door to us (almost), was the Museo Degli Innocenti. This museum was totally redone and finished last year, so we are now able to visit it for the first time. I was quite impressed. Local architect, Jacopo Carli and his group, did the re-design, and I want to say, “Molto buono lavoro, Jacopo.”

This place, called the “Ospedale degli Innocenti”, was started sometime around the year 1445, and the building is part of the S.S. Annunziata complex, with the church at the north end of the piazza, the convent, which is now a hotel, at the west side, and the Ospedale at the east side of the piazza. The Ospedale was begun as a foundling home, where children could be left for any reason, to be cared for by the nuns. The only requirement was that the child had to be small enough to fit into the opening on a turntable that carried the child into the Ospedale. The story of this operation is told through displays within the museum, and is very well done.

Later, the rain had stopped, so we fought the crowds and walked down the via Calzuoili toward the Piazza Signoria.

On Monday, we wandered and took in more of the ambience of the city, without visiting any museums.

Yesterday, we visited the Uffizi Galleria, which has the largest collection of Italian art in the world, and next to the Vatican Museum in Rome, the largest gathering of tour groups, I am sure. Once again, we saw what we wanted to see, and got out of there.

Then last night, we went to the Teatro delle Sale, for a concert. This was such a unique experience, that it deserves its own blog post.

We are returning to the Teatro tonight, for another concert. So, tomorrow, look for the post on that Teatro. This was another place I had seen every time we came to Florence, and never found out how great it was.

So, Arrivederci, for now we are on our way to the Accademia Galleria, to see David. We only have 6 days left to see things. Time is flying by.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

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Domestic in Florence – Dolly Travels

Author: , November 3rd, 2017

Florence market - Dolly Travels

Buona Sera, amici,

Yes. I am home. Florence really is my second home. Today, being Saturday, we started the day by going to the San Ambrogio Mercato, to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and meat.

Massimo had found my trusty shopping cart, which made the trip to the market so much easier. I thank the group that stayed here with me in 2010, for this cart. Those ladies, very much concerned with my staying here by myself for six months, bought this cart for me, and filled it with bottles of wine. That is a gift I shall remember for the rest of my life. I am happy that the cart surfaced again. However, someone needs to fill it up with bottles of wine again. Seriously, grazie mille, I miei amiche.

At the market. You will notice that porcini mushrooms are in season now. Still expensive, but they lend such an elegant touch to so many dishes.

Later in the afternoon, we took a walk through the neighborhood, going to the grocery store, then finishing with a beer for Frank and a glass of wine for me, at our standby,
The OK Bar. This bar is just kitty-corner from our hotel, and has been my place to go, for a neighborhood “Cheers” type of bar, with cheap wine, some snacks, coffee and pastries in the mornings

Well! Imagine my surprise to find that this place is no longer the OK Bar, but has expanded and upgraded itself. It is now “L’Osteria dell OK”. They have bought the little shop that was next to the bar, then expanded to the back, and increased in size over 100%. Some of the same staff are working, and two of the guys remembered me from previous years.

They have their own wine label. I am so impressed.

I was even more impressed when we wanted to order a light lunch, to know they are making all the food in-house, and have a gluten-free menu.
I had a gluten-free pizza that was very good. So, now I have more reasons to go to the OK Bar…mi scusa, L’Osteria dell OK.

At any rate, the day being another gorgeous 78 degrees (F.). we walked around a bit, then came back to the apartment, where we relaxed by doing a load of laundry (washer in house), and I prepared a little home-cooked meal from the treasures we found at the mercato this morning.

After dinner, we just kicked back and watched an Italian game show, with word association. That could be helpful for enhancing my Italian language skills. At one point, I asked Frank to turn up the volume so I could hear what they were saying, but that was pretty silly of me. It was fun watching the program, anyway. Some more perks of getting older: I am easily entertained.

I am happy being back to my second home. I am so very comfortable here, that I don’t need to run around and do everything.

Today, while we enjoyed our afternoon break at the Ok Osteria, we sat outside, and visited with a young lady, who was from Moscow, Russia. She was on her first visit to Italy, but she had traveled extensively to other countries. We had a delightful hour with her, then she was off to see as much as she could see in the rest of the afternoon.

These are the experiences that make foreign travel so interesting to me. I so enjoy meeting people like her.

Likewise, I am also so glad that we made friends with Natalia and Walter in Rome, the owners of Dolce_Roma rentals. They have three apartments that they own, and are so attentive to the needs of the renters. I gave the web address in an earlier post, but I will be ever so happy to tell you more about the rentals, if you ask.

And of course, fortune was with us in 2011, when we met Massimo and Magda Carli, owners of this apartment in Florence, as well as the first rental we ever made, Mutino farm house in the Tuscan hills, between Lucca and Viareggio. Since that time, they have been more than good friends: they have come to my rescue more than once in the past 16 years.

You will hear more from me from Florence. I hope that Frank and I get a good walk tomorrow. I must go to Mass in some church: not sure where, but I do enjoy going to church on Sunday when I am here.

So, tonight, I will say, Buona notte, and I will see you soon.

Arrivederci,
Ciao for now,
Dolly

Another Day in Rome – Dolly Travels

Author: , October 28th, 2017

Rome - Dolly Travels

Buongiorno, tutti,

I have really enjoyed being in Rome again, as now we are not feeling pressured to see as much as we can cram into a few days. We can proceed at a more relaxed pace. I have already told you about our Sunday: from Piazza Navona to the Pantheon to Trevi Fountain, then to Bar Brasile, to watch Roman chaos. We had been there on Friday, after visiting the Borghese Galleria.

Rome - Dolly TravelsThe waiter, Mario, was so happy when he saw us, he grabbed Frank in a big bear hug and kissed him on the cheek. Mario then found us a spot where we could watch the activity of Piazza Venezia.

Monday was another story. We had reservations for the Vatican Museum. We took the Metro out to a stop about a 10 minute walk from the Museum. The place was packed, with many tour groups. As we had reservations, we got right in, but after that we had to follow groups, on after another, to get to see anything. We stopped at a cafeteria for a cappuccino, then went with the crowds to see our favorite sculptures.

Every place was so crowded, with people pushing and shoving, I was afraid that we might get hurt. After an hour of that, we turned around, gradually getting back to the entrance and we left. By then, it was lunch time, so we found a restaurant that we had gone to before on our trips, and had lunch. We just went back to the apartment after that, and relaxed for awhile before attempting any other excursions.

That was stressful. A lady we met yesterday, who had also been at the Vatican Museum that day, told us that her tour guide said that Monday was the busiest she had ever seen the museum, and it is usually busy.

I went online and I read estimates that anywhere from 17, 000 to 25, 000 people visit the Vatican Museum every day that it is open. On that day, I am sure that there were 25,002 visitors. The Economist estimates that over 80 billion dollars per year from ticket sales and over 20 billion per year from merchandise sales go into the Vatican coffers.

The museum is indeed huge, with many fabulous works of art, culminating with the piece d’resistance, the Sistine Chapel. I am happy that we had been to the museum on numerous other occasions; therefore, leaving early was not too big of a disappointment.

Yesterday, we walked from the apartment up to the Vittorio Emmanuele Monument. That was quite a walk for Frank and his cane, but he did it. We wanted to catch a hop-on, hop-off bus, but at first glance, I could not see a bus stop in the vicinity. I had Frank sit on a bench in a park and wait for me, while I went around the monument until I found the stop. On the way back to get Frank, I discovered a staircase that went up the back of the monument, into Campodoglio, where the Capotoline Museums are. Then I went down another staircase to fetch Frank.

Rome - Dolly TravelsAfter we had seen all we wanted to see, we had lunch at the very lovely restaurant on the roof top of the museum.

We eventually found the hop-on, hop-off bus and took at tour around the center of Rome. By the end of that tour, it was time to head back home again. We had enjoyed another long but entertaining day.

Dinner last night was at the Trattoria Il Tettarella again. This is a very good restaurant inn our neighborhood. It was very busy, as the food is very good. Being in the neighborhood, the trattoria is frequented by locals as much as by tourists.

Tonight, we are having dinner in our apartment. I am going to make soup. I have gone too long without cooking. I simply must do that.

So, I will say, Arrivederci now. I will be certain to tell you how the dinner is.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

Anticipating Italy – Dolly Travels

Author: , October 4th, 2017

Vernazza Italy - Dolly

Yes! As I pack for our upcoming trip to Italy, I can barely contain my excitement and anticipation of returning to the country that I consider my second home.

There is something about Italy that draws me back, time after time, year after year; although my European ancestors were from Germany or the British Isles, Italy, its customs, its people, its food, its love of life appeals to me more than any other country I have visited. Don’t get me wrong here; I have visited many countries and enjoyed my experiences in those places. However, going back to Italy, to me, is returning to the place where I belong.

Florence is my favorite city. I could wander the streets, climb the hills, have a meal or an aperitif in any number of little restaurants or bars and be comfortable. I have mentioned in my blogs before, of the sheer pleasure of going for an evening stroll (la passiegeta) and finishing my walk by sitting on a bench in a neighborhood park, watching children at play while their parents conversed with neighbors and friends, and the “nonne” (grandparents) catch up on the gossip with other “nonne”.

From Florence, I would probably take the train up to the Ligurian Coast, to Cinque Terre. In those 5 villages, I would encounter a culture and life style that is far removed from the big city life. The residents of these towns are fishermen and farmers, most raising grapes in cooperative vineyards that produce that excellent white wine.

The villages are small, very hilly, thus the area has become a mecca for hikers. Although the area is much too full of tourists now, during the day, at nighttime, if I am able to get the room at Martina’s that I love, in Vernazza , I am able to sit on the veranda and watch the twinkle of the lights of Monterosso off to the right, the light on the castle far up on the hill to my left, while seeing the activity of the restaurants and the strollers in the piazza below me.

Soon the clock on the church immediately to my left, will chime the hour, reminding me that it will also chime at 7:00 the next morning, so perhaps I need to go to bed, sleep well and be ready for a busy hiking day, after a breakfast of the best pastries in the world, at Il Pirata restaurant, up the hill, at the top edge of the town.

If I stay in Monterosso, you will find me at the beach. I will go down to Stella and rent a lounge chair and umbrella for the day, and swim, read, relax, go up to the cafe for lunch, then repeat. When I think of going to a Happy Place in my mind, this is the scene that I envision.

In Rome, my favorite place to stay, would be near the Campo di Fiori, with its huge fruit and vegetable market in the daytime, and the open square at night, where musicians come out to entertain, while restaurants and cafes all around the perimeter, serve drinks and meals to the patrons, while the young people begin to congregate at their favorite bars. In the summertime, all this action takes place “al fresco”, in the open air.

Ah, then there is Sorrento. Nestled in the curve of the Bay of Naples, Sorrento is a place of serenity, a peaceful oasis down at the water’s edge. I especially love going down to Marina Grande, the old fishermen’s marina, where the restaurants sit facing the water, and serve an amazing array of seafood fresh from that sea that day.

However, up in the main part of the city, much activity takes place. The main street is
filled with shops of every sort, from the high-end stores to the sidewalk markets. There is the lovely Basilica of San Francisco, where one can see wood-carved doors. Overlooking the bay is the Foreigner’s Club, an edifice that caters to “stranieri”, we tourists/visitors to Sorrento. While having a huge ballroom, suitable for weddings and large gatherings, outside is a large open air patio, where one can watch the action, or quiet beauty of the Bay of Naples, while sipping a drink and having a snack.

Marina Piccolo, the main harbor, is bustling, also, with excursion boats to the Isle of Capri, and other islands in the bay, as well as trips up to Naples, an down the Amalfi Coast.

Now if I were to leave Sorrento and travel north, I might want to spend a few days in Venice. There is a city, very unique in its culture, architecture styles, way of life, for it is water bound. No traffic except on the canals, and those are bustling. Water taxis, water police boats, ambulances, floating “farmers’ markets”; all commercial vehicles are boats. I would get on a “vaporetto”, the city bus equivalent, and tour the Grand Canal. Or I might just wander through the back streets, find small neighborhoods, intimate cafes, as well as the Jewish ghetto. On the other side of the Grand Canal, I will probably go to the fish market and the fruit and vegetable stands near that, to get the makings of my dinner for that night.

Before I leave Italy, though, as often as possible, I need to go to the Dolomites. I have found that being in those mountains, whether hiking or just relaxing, is my ultimate “Happy Place”. There is find tranquility, peace of mind, that I have not found in any other place on earth. Those magnificent, jagged peaks, sometimes topped with snow, towering over the rolling hills of meadows, steep hills of evergreen trees, with hiking trails all over that accommodate the hiking interests of everyone, from short, flat walks, to rugged “mountain goat” trails. I could spend days wandering on those trails, for there is nothing to interfere with my inner peace up there.

So, I will leave you now to dream of Italy, while I finish packing and dream of Italy.

Look for posts from me. We will be in Rome in just a few days. A new adventure awaits.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Gay Italy Travel Resources

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