Cinque Terre – Dolly Travels

Author: , September 18th, 2019

I promised I would write about Cinque Terre, the five villages on the Ligurian coast that are part of the Italian Riviera. Susan and I spent three lovely days in Vernazza, the fourth of the five cities. We were so busy having fun, I neglected to write while we were there. Now, as we wait for a train that will take us back to Florence, I find I have time to write.

Susan was much more active that I was. Every morning she got up early and went for a hike to either Monterosso or Cerniglia. I walked around town, which was fun and I got some exercise, too. There is hardly any flat ground in Vernazza. The same holds true for the other 3 villages to the south: Riomaggiore, Manarola and Corniglia. These little towns have buildings seemingly Super Glued to the mountainsides. Walking around any of those little towns gives you plenty of exercise.

In Vernazza, the trail twists and turns before you get to a tower. This particular tower is at the east end of town.

Monterosso, to the north of Vernazza, does have some flat ground, and of course, it has the largest beach. People come from all over to swim in the Ligurian Sea at Monterosso.

Our days were filled with walking, exploring and enjoying the fantastic food of the villages. Since Vernazza is a fishing village, our meals were primarily seafood. I did read the menus carefully, for some seafood delicacies are not items I want to try. I suppose I should be more adventurous in that respect.

Yesterday, I wanted to relax at the beach, so I took the train to Monterosso. I walked down to the Bagno di Stella, where I usually go to swim. I rented a chair and umbrella for the day and spent most of the day right at that spot. The Bagno has a restaurant, so I was able to have lunch without leaving the area.

Finally, after I had enough sun and water, I met Susan at the train station. We went back to Vernazza and we both took long naps. We had to renew our energy for more wonderful eating. Dinner last night was at Gambero Rosso, our favorite restaurant. I had some fish in a red sauce with capers and olives. Susan had fried fish, which looked tasty.

Now we will go to our second home, on Via Dei Servi in Florence. We will stay there for ten days. Perhaps we will have time to find all our old favorite places, visit the OK Bar a time or two. One thing I know for sure, I am going to the “mercato” and I will be cooking many of our meals. I am going through cooking withdrawal.

I cannot leave you without giving you a Vernazza sunset. I do hope you will be able to come here some day and witness a sunset for yourself.

I will post more about Florence later. Stay tuned!!

Ciao for now,
Dolly

Full Story at Dolly Travels

Cinque Terre Gay Travel Resources

 

San Sebastián del Oeste – Dolly Travels

Author: , April 17th, 2019

San Sebastián del Oeste

!Hola!

I think I am finally getting the hang of this Spanish language. I know how to ask for someone to fix the sink. I can order food and drink, get a taxi…hmm. That is about it. An older man, a helper at Walmart, asked me today why I didn’t speak Spanish. I told him I was working on it, but he shook his head and declared I should have done that years ago. I don’t know why he felt that way, but I told him I would keep trying, but he shook his head again, as if to declare me hopeless. Oh, well. My new phrase today, direct from my language translator, is: ¿Alquiera en busca una cerveza? Is anyone up for a beer?

Today is a lovely day: a bit breezy, but the sun is shining, and all is well in Puerto Vallarta.

This morning I walked to Walmart. I can see that complex from where I sit, but to get there, one has to go around the marinas, past the Naval Base, then take your life in your hands to cross the busy boulevard. I didn’t trust the policeman who kept telling me to go, when trucks and buses were coming around the corner aiming for me. I waited until some locals crossed, then I went with them. Whew! Adventure looms everywhere.

Today is going to be a relaxing day for me. I have an appointment at a spa later this afternoon for manicure, pedicure, 50 minute massage and a facial for a cost of approximately $55. We will see how that turns out.

Yesterday, I took a tour up to an old town far up in the Sierra Madre, reported to be the oldest town in this area. San Sebastián del Oeste was established in 1605, and flourished due to silver mining. After that, gold was discovered up there, so mining for those minerals, plus lead, made San Sebastián a busy place, with the population in 1900 being around 20,000 persons. Now, there are fewer than 1,000 residents. The town is kept clean and pretty, as it is considered one of the “Pueblos Majicos”, due to its history. The town receives a subsidy from the Mexican government to keep it historically correct, including the thick adobe walls of the buildings, and red tile roofs and the architecture. The streets are made of rock: big rocks, little rocks, all cemented together in an uneven hodge podge, it seemed to me. There are sidewalks for about half of the town. I had to laugh, as we saw cars proceeding down the street, slowly bumping up and down. Not that it was needed, for the cars could not go very fast, but the speed bump on one of the side streets was constructed of a heavy rope thrown across the street. It had obviously been there a long time, for it was pretty well enmeshed into the rocks of the street.

Before we got to San Sebastián, which, by the way, is a two-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta, we made three stops. Our guide told us that the first paved roads to that town were constructed in the 1960’s. Up till then, the only roads were dirt. Can you imagine, in the silver and gold mining days, goods and people had to be transported from Puerto Vallarta, where they arrived by ship. The primary means of transport, then, was by pack mule. The journey took two days.

Our first stop, about and hour from PV, was at a store called El Puente de Krystal, which I assume refers to the bridge over a huge ravine beside the store. I was happy that we stopped there, for Frank and I had visited that place on a tour a few years ago.

We watched a woman making home made tortillas from the masa de maiz. She had a big bowl of that lovely dough under the cloth beside her. When someone wanted a taco, she pulled off a ball of dough, pressed it into a tortilla, threw it onto the wood-fired stove top, let it cook until it puffed up, then she picked it up, turned it over. When it was done to her satisfaction, she pulled the tortilla off the grill, put it onto a small plate, then handed it to the customer. There were bowls of retried beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, shredded cheese and salsa prepared. The customer made his taco to his or her preference. I had two of the delicious tacos, for a cost of $1 each.

Our next stop was at a tequila factory, of course. Jalisco, the Mexican state we are in, is the birthplace of tequila, so on any tour, one ends up at a tasting of that beverage.

This place was very simple, with techniques for making tequila going back generations of this same family. They use pure blue agave, the leaves and the root, to begin the process.

I took tiny tastes of tequila, but I am not a connoisseur; others said it was very good.

Next, we visited a coffee farm. There, I did taste the product, and it was delicious. The coffee farm had been established over 100 years ago. There was a woman called Maria, who had been the mother of 21 children, who started the farm with her husband. She outlived him, so she continued the farm and coffee production. Her next-to-youngest son now runs the business, and he is getting up in years, also. Maria, by the way, lived to be 85 years old. I cannot even fathom having a baby almost every year, as she did, beginning with the first child when she was 15 years old, and her youngest, when she was 46. Holy moley! And then she ran the farm, which is about 20 acres, I believe.

We were given a lesson on coffee growing, harvesting, roasting. I also learned that this is an organic farm. An interesting side note is the farm uses natural pesticide: a mixture of oil, garlic and serrano pepper. Hmm. Sounds a lot like the recipe for shrimp ajillo I told you about in an earlier post, except the pepper or chile is different. I might try that on my plants at home and see if it will keep the squirrels away.

Our guide took us to a very nice restaurant in San Sebastián. It was tastefully decorated, and the food was scrumptious. We were served chicken mole, cheese quesadillas, shredded beef for tacos, rice and beans. I could see the cook making tortillas in the kitchen, and cooking them as needed.

We ended our tour in the town square, after visiting the church of San Sebastián.

All in all, it was a pleasurable day. After all that walking on the rocky streets, and listening to Mario tell us all the cultural information, we were a tired group that headed back to Puerto Vallarta. I was grateful to Mario, our guide, for in his real life, he is a history teacher. He gave us so much very good information, both on the history of Mexico and this area in particular, but he expanded more on the anthropological and sociological aspects of Mexico. I felt it was a very worthwhile trip, for me.

By the time I got back to the resort, though, my feet and my brain were tired. I settled into my room for a nap before I ventured out for dinner.

I stayed at the resort for dinner and was treated to a lovely sunset.

So, adios from Puerto Vallarta, until next time. This is, indeed, a restful place.

–Dolly

Original Post: Dolly Travels

Another Day in Puerto Vallarta – Dolly Travels

Author: , April 4th, 2019

Puerto Vallarta - Dolly Travels

!Hola, mi amigos,

Good morning, everyone,

It seems that time just is flying by, as every day I find something new to do; although, most of the time, I am simply relaxing and being lazy.

My youngest son, Rob, and his wife, Amy, joined me here a few days ago, so we have been exploring the town and the marina, primarily looking for the best food and drinks.

I have been here for 11 days already and I have eaten shrimp everyday. I am still not tired of it. Sometimes I have the fresh catch of the day, which so far has been either mahi mahi or red snapper, both of which have been delicious. If I have shrimp for lunch, then I might have the fish for dinner. Or vise versa.

One of my favorite dishes (above): Camarones in ajillo sauce. I had to look up the recipe. It is very simple, actually. The chef sautés garlic and chopped dried guajillo chiles in oil, then sautés the shrimp in that. The spicy oil is poured over the camarones when it is served. Here at the Tenampa pool bar, the shrimps are served with steamed veggies, a portion of rice, and for some reason, toasted bread. It is so good. I tell myself it is a healthy meal.

In the right, you can see the shrimp salad, which is another good choice. Those shrimp have also been sautéed in the chile oil.

Another favorite dish has been the fajitas del camarones. Just so much good food here, sometimes it is difficult to make a decision.

Okay, other than the food, walking has been on my agenda, nearly every day. I start my mornings with a three mile walk, up and around the marina, stopping for a Starbucks cappuccino, then continue on back to the condo. I have breakfast, then I write, every day, for at least an hour. Afternoons are devoted to relaxing by the pool or going into town.

Or, if I am not by the pool, relaxing by the beach, under a palapa, is also a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

On Thursday afternoon, there was a big market at the marina. Tents were set up all around the perimeter of the marina, selling all different types of merchandise: food stalls, taco wagons, dessert tents, where slices of some of the most delicious-looking cakes were sold. One stall had huge pans of paella and more pans of gumbo. Fortunately, I had already eaten, or I might have made a pig of myself.

There were also Indian dancers performing.

Yesterday, there was high clouds over the city, making the day a bit cooler, but no rain.
As we walked along the Malecon, we could see the waves crashing onto the shore. We watched pelicans diving into this waves to catch fish. Those big birds dive so fast, and so straight down, I had to wonder if they every suffer broken necks. They were amazing to watch.

Today, on my walk through the marina, I once more spotted a big crocodile. I think he was waiting for me, for today, his head was out of the water, up on the rocks, and he was smiling at me.

I was too mesmerized this morning to think to take a picture, for all I could think of, was the Disney song, “Never Smile at a Crocodile”, from the movie, “Peter Pan”. Now, of course, I can’t get the song out of my head.

So, life is fun, and I am getting work done on my book. Most of all, though, I am relaxing. This vacation was much-needed and I appreciate all of you who helped me get to this lovely, restful place.

I will close with a sunset picture from a few days ago. Now, it is lunch time, and the camarones at Tenampa Bar are calling for me to come enjoy them.

So, I shall say,

Hasta la vista, until we meet again.

Dolly

Bolzano – Dolly Travels

Author: , September 15th, 2018

Bolzano - Dolly Travels

Good evening,

I finally have time to sit and write. We have been in Bolzano since yesterday afternoon, and it seems we have been going non-stop since we arrived.

We had a long train trip from Vernazza to Bolzano. If you look at a map of Italy, you will see that we came from the Ligurian Coast to northern Italy, to the gateway to the Dolomites. Actually, I have to admit, our train trip wasn’t so bad. We got a medium high speed train, the Frecciaargento from La Spezia to Florence, taking only and hour and a half, versus the usual 3 hours on a regional train. We had to wait about an hour in Florence, then we got another Frecciaargento train direct to Bolzano, a little over three hours.

Our hotel, Hotel Feichter, is located about four blocks from the train station, near the center of town. We got checked in, then took a walking tour of the town. It is a lovely Austrian-looking town, and of course, as we walked, we did not hear Italian being spoken anymore; the primary language here is German. Everything is so clean and neat. We walked down one street that had a covered portico to shield us from the sun. The shops were pretty upscale, but we weren’t shopping, we were just strolling.

Of course, for me, the biggest draw to Bolzano, is that this city is the gateway to the Dolomites. From the walkway in front of my room, I can see the stark Dolomite mountains. They are calling me.

Last evening, we walked again, and had not really decided where to have dinner. There was a big black cloud hovering over the western edge of the city. I told the kids that our dinner destination would be determined by what that cloud did. Interesting enough, we were just a few steps from a brew pub when the first fat rain drops started to fall, and within minutes, everyone was scrambling to get out of the rain.

We made it into the pub, got seated and enjoyed a traditional Austrian type dinner.

Of course, Danny had a beer with his dinner. After all, he had to try the locally-made brew.

After dinner, the rain had stopped, so we were able to walk home without getting soaked. However, about an hour after we got back to the hotel, we were treated to one of the most spectacular lightning and thunder shows that I have ever seen, complete with pouring down rain. It was so incredible, I had to open my window and watch the show. Heather and Danny told me that they went out onto the walkway in front of our rooms to watch it. What a fantastic treat…one we could enjoy from the comfort of our rooms.

Today, we visited the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, where we saw the displays focused on Ötzi, the Ice Man: an intact body of a man that was found high in the mountains between Austria and Italy in 1991. He has now been determined to be between 5,100 and 5,300 years old.

Later, we took a gondola up to the town of Oberbozen, a small resort town in the hills above Bolzano.

Tonight, we walked through some small streets, finally settling on one small restaurant for our dinner.

I do enjoy being in Bolzano, for it is an interesting city. There is a university here; it is the largest city in the northern part of Italy. There are many shops, eateries, plus parks and places to relax. Staying here is always a pleasure.

We will leave here in the morning, and take a bus for the one hour ride to Castelrotto, where we will spend four days, hopefully hiking and enjoying the outdoors in the clean Alpine air. For me, just being in the Dolomites makes me happy.

I will try to write a blog post within a day or two. It is hard to believe that this vacation is drawing to a close. What wonderful memories we will have to take home with us.

Arrivederci,
Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Trentino-Alto Adige Gay Travel Resources Gay Travel Resources

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

Vernazza Gay Travel Resources

More About Florence – Dolly Travels

Author: , August 23rd, 2018

Florence - Dolly Travels

Buona sera,

Now I can settle down. Mexico won their first World Cup game, defeating Germany, so we are more relaxed. The kids went to a bar to watch the game. I had to do some more walking through my favorite Italian city. I finally stopped and watched the last two minutes of the game, before coming back to the apartment.

Saturday morning, we decided to follow Rick Steves’ audiotour of the Renaissance Walk. We fought our way through the crowds around the Duomo, continued down via Calzaiuoli to Piazza Signoria, then across the Ponte Vecchio.

We stopped for a snack and cold drinks after the walk…the most expensive snack we have had. But I needed a break from the crowds.

On our walk back to the city, we stayed on the Oltrano side of the river, until we came to the next bridge, Ponte Grazie.

Later in the afternoon, the kids made a visit to Bargello galleria. There is so much to see in Florence. Danny and Heather had their list of places to see. They have more stamina than I do, so I simply walked all around my favorite city, watching the children at play, following some of the streets I know so well.

This morning, after breakfast, we walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo. It is quite a hike, but we made it. The view from up there is incredible; it made the walk worthwhile.

We walked down the hill, following the paths, and soon we were back in the city proper. We stopped for some lunch, then it was time to go home and take our afternoon nap. These one-hour naps are becoming quite the habit, but so necessary, especially after being out in the humid heat of the day.

Now we are all unwinding at home, making our plans for tomorrow, our last day in Florence.

Until next time,
Arrivederci,

Ciao for now,
Dolly

Vernazza – Disaster & Recovery – Dolly Travels

Author: , August 4th, 2018

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 – Lynda and Jake, from Toronto. 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

Sorrento and Amalfi Coast – Dolly Travels

Author: , August 2nd, 2018

Sorento and the Amalfi Coast - Dolly Travels

Buongiorno, tutti,

The sirens of the Sorento and the Amalfi Coast were calling us. We left Rome on Sunday morning and traveled to Napoli by train. At the train station, we got a taxi to take us to the port, where we would board a ferry for a short ride across the Bay of Napoli to Sorrento. The taxi ride itself was an adventure. I felt like I was on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in Disneyland. Napoli, to me, is so crowded and congested, I never want to spend any time there. The taxi driver made certain that we got to the port in one piece, but I had my doubts for awhile. He was a genial soul. He did not speak English, but I was too terrified to speak, anyway.

The boat ride across the bay was such a pleasant way to get to Sorrento. I have always, in the past, taken the small train, the Circumvesuviana, which is usually very crowded and takes twice as long to get to Sorrento. I was happy for this new experience.

Once we arrived in Sorrento, and checked into our hotel, we set off on a short walking tour of the town. The walk was not very long, as we were hungry. We went to Ristorante Aurora, to have pizza, for they make the best pizza in Sorrento. The restaurant sits right on the main piazza, Piazza Tasso. From our outdoor table, we could watch the people walking by, as well as the activity of the piazza.

Sorrento sits on top of huge limestone cliffs. The canyons, the small streets, the hills, as well as the parks and quiet places, are so stunning, making Sorrento a superb walking town.

On Monday, we went on a driving tour of the Amalfi Coast. Carolina Monetti, daughter of our usual driver, Raffaele, picked us up at 8:30 and away we went.

Carolina drove us over the mountain to the Amalfi Coast side of the Mediterranean. She pointed out different points of interest to us, and stopped frequently for us to take pictures and get better views of the sea.

We stopped in one turnout on the road, where a man with a small truck had set up a little fruit stand. Lemons are everywhere. We were told that the trees down here produce three crops a year. Most of the lemon trees are in groves that are fenced and covered with mesh screens, as the torrential rains of winter, plus the birds and other calamities of nature, would destroy the fragile lemon blossoms.

Finally, though, we had to return to Sorrento. We finished our day by enjoying a fabulous dinner at my favorite restaurant in all of Italy, Ristorante Delfino, situated down at the Marina Grande. We celebrated Danny’s birthday in style. This was a perfect finish to a perfect day.

Until we meet again, Arrivederci. There are certainly more adventures in our future, but Danny’s birthday this year has to go down in history as one of the best days ever.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

Back In Rome – Dolly Travels

Author: , July 25th, 2018

Buongiorno, tutti,

Trevi Fountain - Alain

I am so happy to be back in Rome. This trip I am with my granddaughter, Heather, and her husband, Danny. We had a long, long flight from San Francisco to Rome, which not only made us all very tired, but the flight delays were stressful. However, near midnight on Wednesday, we made it to our lovely little apartment. We were hungry, too, so not long after we got the keys to the apartment, we ventured out to find food. Fortunately, Rome has several restaurants that stay open late, so we found ourselves eating pasta at nearly one o’clock in the morning.

The first sight we saw as we went in search of food was the Trevi Fountain. This lovely monument is only a block and a half from our apartment. In fact, we heard the sound of the water first, then the fountain came into view.

I had never seen the fountain with so few people around. The lighting and the sound of the gently falling water made the scene quite emotionally moving.

The following day, Danny and I ventured out to see some of Rome. I loved seeing his reaction to the city itself, as well as the sights we saw, for this was his first visit to Italy.

Danny and I walked all over that historic area of Rome, found a nice place for lunch in Campo di Fiori, then walked back to our apartment. We needed a “siesta”.

Later, Heather, Danny and I went out walking again. We stopped first for a gelato, then walked to the Spanish Steps, up to Piazza Barberini, and found a restaurant where I had been seven years ago with my grandson, Patrick and his girl friend, Kiri. After dinner we walked some more, taking Heather back to the Pantheon area and to Piazza Navona. We ventured over to Campo di Fiori for a drink, then home again.

Our days have been filled to the brim with activity. Over the past three days we have been to the Colosseum, the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica, Borghese Galleria, Piazza Della Popolo, across the river to Trastevere.

Last night, after a lovely dinner near the Pantheon, I wanted the kids to see the Isola Tiberina, the island in the middle of the Tiber River. Lo and behold, we found an entirely new activity, for lack of a better word. Right down next to the river, on the Trastevere side, were tent-like structures, each one a different business. Many were restaurants or bars, a couple of hookah bars, a carnival area, with some clowns and games for kids, shops with clothings, jewelry, etc., etc. This area follows the river edge for about two miles. It was fun to walk along and watch the nighttime activity. The place was hopping.

Now we are packed and ready to go to Sorrento for a couple of days. I will try to blog more often, but we have been busy. Danny kept track of our miles of walking. We got in over 9 miles each day on Thursday and Friday; yesterday we walked 10-1/2 miles, and lots of stairs. I made the comment that I would be skinny as a rail when I get back home, but I think the gelato and the good food are going to balance out the calories lost in walking.

Ci vediamo presto. We will see each other soon.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Rome Gay Travel Resources

Returning to Lucca – Dolly Travels

Author: , May 5th, 2018

Lucca - Dolly Travels

Good morning, Everyone.

Today I am remembering Lucca. Lucca is another of my favorite cities in Tuscany. To get to Lucca, I usually take a train from Florence and enjoy the city as a day trip. The older part of the city is enclosed within ancient Roman stone walls. One walks from the train station, across a busy boulevard, then on a path that takes you through an archway in the wall, up a few steps and you are in a totally different world.

This is part of one of my tour groups, my “ducklings”, as we walk up the path to go through the wall up to the old city.

Once inside the walls, the city is full of parks, pretty piazze and lovely little sidewalk cafes.

Churches are abundant. For the most part, there are no tacky sidewalk vendors or beggars. This old town is as popular with the locals as it is with tourists, for many fine businesses flourish on the inner streets. Via Fillulungo is one street with expensive stores; I only window shop on that street. However, there is a wonderful pasticerria on that street, so sometimes I do have to stop in there and get a delicious treat.

For me, of the most fun things to do in Lucca is to rent bicycles and ride around the top of the old wall, the ramparts. The path is about two and a half miles around, completely encircling the old town. There are two bicycle rental places within the walls, and one outside, near the train station. I don’t ride a bike, but I love to walk this path, as it is pretty, and I have a great view of the inner part of the city. From there, I can decide where I want to go next.

I don’t think I would ride a bike down one of the exits off the ramparts that leads to the old city, for even walking down was a bit treacherous. There are easier ways to get down. One important item to remember, is which exit to take back to the city, for there are four main “porte”, or exits. If you go down the wrong one, you may have a long walk back to the train station. The exit closest to the station, for your information, is Porta San Pietro. Remember that, if you go to Lucca.

Another fun thing to do is to climb Guinigi Tower. This tower, a remnant of the 15th century, A.D., has a garden with full size trees growing up on top. To get to the top is a bit of a strenuous hike; there are 227 steps. However, once you emerge onto that garden, you will have a stupendous view, not only of the old city, but the surrounding countryside.

Lucca

Lucca sits in the foothills of the Apuan Alps, or Alpi Apuane, as they are known in Italy. Over those mountains in the background, not too far away, are the more famous Carrara Mountains, known for its fantastic marble quarries.

The Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro is one of the largest in Lucca. I have been there when an auto show was taking place. Wow! Some of the most beautiful cars in the world are in Italy, and I think they all gathered in Lucca that day.

Or you can relax at one of the many small cafes that are on the fringes of Piazza San Michele. Usually, there are children playing soccer in the piazza. (I will insert a little side note here: children in Italy rarely throw a ball; they kick it.).

As with all the Italian towns, there is so much more to discover than I have seen; therefore, I need to go back and find some more wonderful sights. I still have not seen Puccini’s house, although he is one of my favorite composers, and he is a native of Lucca. I would like to stay overnight in Lucca one of these times, for every night there is a concert. I know I would enjoy that.

I am looking forward to going to Lucca once more time.

I will post more pictures of Lucca when I am actually there, in just a few short weeks. Until then,

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Lucca Gay Travel Resources