Viareggio, Torre del Lago and Puccini

Author: , April 28th, 2013

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

Bella - dinner in ViareggioWell, I must say, we are really having a good time. The first thing I must show you is our dinner we made after buying the fresh fish that had to be cleaned. My friend did a great job with the cfish cleaning. We then baked it on top of new potatoes, with just a bit of olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Delizioso!!

Yesterday, the weather kept us guessing as to whether it was going to rain or not. It was still warm, but cloudy. Massimo asked us if we would like to go with him over to Torre del Lago, which is really just a suburb of Viareggio. He needed to take something to a carpenter to be repaired.

He then said as long as we are here, would we like to go out to the home of Giacomo Puccini, which is very close by, on the Lago Massaciuccoli (don’t ask me to pronounce it!). Giacamo Puccini first built a small hunting lodge here, then found it so peaceful and conducive to writing his music, that he built a beautiful villa that could house all his artistic friends as well as his wife, Elvira and his only son, Antonio.

The villa is now a museum, thanks to the tireless effort of his only direct descendant, Giacomo’s granddaughter, Simonetta She had to tackle different government agencies for over 20 years to finally get permission to turn the villa into a museum and keep greedy lawyers from taking over and selling her land to people that wanted to build fancy hotels, etc.

As we were walking up to the mansion, imagine our surprise, when Massimo calls through the fence, to a beautiful lady, in her 80\0x2032s, who was in the garden picking some flowers. Here was Simonetta herself, and Massimo knows her personally.

She had one of the museum workers open the gate, so we got to meet her, and chat a few minutes, then we had a free tour of the villa. We were not allowed to take pictures within the villa, so our picture I will share with you comes from the book we bought about the museum.

We walked around the gardens, then out to the lake. Simonetta Puccini is now the president of the Institute of Puccini Studies in Milano, and she created a foundation dedicated to the restoration and preservation of Puccini. The foundation is called, Friends of the Houses of Giacomo Puccini. She is still a very beautiful and active lady. We felt so blessed to have the opportunity to meet her.

On the grounds, a bit further away from the villa, but still walking distance, of course, is the large outdoor amphitheater where the annual summer Puccini Festival is held. Every July and August, they perform several of Puccini’s operas, in repertory. I had the privilege, 3 years ago, of attending performances of “Turandot” and “Madama Butterfly” there What great memories I have of those operas.

Tomorrow we will be going to a concert in the big auditorium, which is beneath the outdoor theater, called the Enrico Caruso Auditorium. We are looking forward to that.

So now I will close this email. We will be leaving Viareggio and traveling to Roma on Monday morning. So you may not hear from me until we are in Rome. I hope you will continue to follow and enjoy our travels.

So, ciao for now.

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Hello From Viareggio

Author: , April 24th, 2013

Bella in ViareggioOur dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

How wonderful it is to be back in Italy, my second home. Although I still can’t speak Italian very well, hearing the language sounds very familiar to me, and I can only hope that in the next 2 months, my command of the language will be much improved.

Susan and I both flew into Florence airport yesterday. I had to come from Paris by way of Vienna? Sort do confused me, too…and Susan flew in from US. We were very concerned, as she was flying on Lufthansa Airlines, which went on strike the day she left. Fortunately, she got onto the only Lufthansa flight that went from Denver to Frankfurt. Everyone else cancelled, I guess, as she got a 3 seat row to herself, and being the short person she is, she was able to lie down and sleep most of the way. I wondered, when I met her, why she was so energetic and I felt like I had been up all night.

Our plan was to meet at the airport, since our flight arrived within minutes of each other, then get a taxi to the train station and take the train to Viareggio. Imagine our surprise when our great friends, Massimo and Magda, met us at the airport and drove us over to Viareggio. What a wonderful thing for them to do, and very nice for us.

After we got settled into our apartment, unpacked and took a short nap, we then walked over to the apartment of Massimo and Magda for dinner…we had such a lovely evening. We enjoy their company so much. After dinner, their son, Niccolo, drove us back to our apartment, where we slept like 2 logs all night.

This morning, Susan and I walked to the Promenade along the seacoast, as the day was absolutely beautiful. Sunny, a small breeze, but it was such a joy to be in Italy and enjoy the sunshine.

The fishing boats had come in, and were selling fresh fish on the waterfront. So we bought 2 for our dinner tonight. Unfortunately for us, we had to clean them..well, I gave that job to Susan, as I have never cleaned a fish in my life. On the way back home, we stopped at a grocery and got the rest of our dinner fixings for tonight.

We went back to the apartment after our shopping so that Susan could clean the fish, and we could get the remains into the outside garbage. We relaxed for a couple hours, then headed out again. By now the temperature was so nice, we just had T-shirts and sweaters.

I was still looking for a camera store, and finally found one…unfortunately, the shop was closed for afternoon siesta, or whatever it is called in Italy. (I should know this by now, but I still call it a siesta.)

Since the day was so gorgeous, we decided to while away the time until the shops opened again, by having a glass of wine at one of the seaside cafes…what a lovely hour and a half we spent..

Now we have found the camera shop open, I have purchases a new camera, and hopefully, will learn how to use it, and download pictures to their pad. I did make sure that the instructions were in English.

As we don’t have Internet in the apartment, we need to come out into the city and ind an Internet cafe to get on the Internet. I can see many cups Of capuchini and many glasses of wine being consumed, but just because I want you all to know what we are doing.

So, until tomorrow, or the next time I can get Internet access,


And I am so happy to be in Italia.

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Dolly Travels: Pitti Palace, Viareggio, and Cinque Terra

Author: , May 28th, 2011

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Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time starting in Paris. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!
Monterosso Beach

Buongiorno, Everyone,

While we are taking our afternoon rest, I will try to fill you in on our activities of the past week. Although we have been walking miles every day, the stairs will probably do me in.

Why is it, that I can walk forever, on level ground, even hilly ground, and the stairs are going to be my undoing? And believe me, if you even think about telling me I am a year older than I was last year, I will not listen to you!!

Boboli GardensLast Thursday, Sharon and I toured the Boboli Gardens and the Pitti Palace. The gardens were beautiful, of course, but everything in the gardens is just up another hill, or a flight of stairs. The visit was well worth the energy expended getting to the top.

On Saturday, we took the train to Viareggio. Massimo picked us up at the station, then took us to our apartment. The Carli’s had given us thebuse of the Oberdan apartment for the weekend, which was quite lovely.

As the Carli’s had commitments to other functions, we were on our own for Saturday. First we walked to the marina, looked at the enormously expensive yachts, trying to decide which one we liked best.

Then we walked the Passiagata, the pedestrian area that parallels the sea. We were fortunate that the weather was good, so eventually we found a little ristorante where we each ordered what we thought was a sandwich but when our lunch arrived, the sandwiches were the size of a small pizza, made on fresh focaccia and delicious, but impossible to finish. Here is Sharon taking a picture of our lunch (at right).

After that we waddled our way a few more blocks down the Passiagata, then returned to our apartment to rest up from all the walking and eating. Later that night we had a nice little grilled sole with potatoes, and that was quite enough.

The next day we had lunch with Massimo and Magda, and Massimo’s mother, who will be 106 years old this August. She is delightful, and we enjoyed the meal and the company very much. Later, after his mother had gone back to her own apartment, the four of us went for a walk, and got caught in a rainstorm.

PassagiataHere is a photo of the Passiagata (at left).

The following day we took the train up to the Cinque Terre, staying in the village of Vernazza. We were very lucky with the weather for our two night stay there.

We did not hike the trail, but walked along the road out of the village, coming across little cottages, with gardens, a little river. It was so pretty.

Afternoon SpritzWe managed to get back to Vernazza in time for cocktail hour. At five o’clock, the church bells chimed the hour, then the carillon played the Italian National Anthem. I love that song anyway, but it was especially nice to hear it there, and see and hear many people singing the anthem. I must learn the words to that song. Our afternoon Aperol spritz is pictured at right.

Vernazza's HarborOn Tuesday, we spent most of the day in Monterosso (beach photo at the top of this post), the village further north west of Vernazza. Again, the weather was beautiful, many people were enjoying the beach. We walked into the Old Town, then down the Promenade, had a lovely seafood lunch, finally getting the train back to Vernazza about six o’clock. Vernazza’s harbor is at left.

Sadly, Wednesday, we had to leave the seaside, but we were happy to be back “home” in Florence. We were able to have dinner in our apartment with enough food for leftovers tonight.

Life is good! We enjoyed a nice walk today, in Florence, but did not get to go into the Medici chapel, or Santa Maria Novella church, as we had planned, because of the long lines of tourists waiting to get into those places.

I think the cruise ships had brought tons of visitors today, so we went to the bookstore and the ceramic store, where I saw my friend, Regina, in the Lorezacchio Ceramiche.

She has made some beautiful ceramics, many of which reside in my home already. We had a nice visit. This is one of the good things about travel, meeting some very nice people who remain friends forever.

Now I must close, and get this blog post sent. By the way, although I am having a good time, I still want to hear from my friends and family. Write to me, OK?

Ciao for now.


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Postcards From An Italian Adventure: Another Busy Week

Author: , August 25th, 2010

Postcards From An Italian Adventure:

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Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Monday, August 16th

ViareggioToday is Friday already, and I realize that I have not posted anything since we christened the new Carli apartment a week ago. As usual here, there is always something going on.

Friday, I went with the Carli’s back to their home in Viareggio. The weather was gorgeous, so Saturday and Sunday was spent at the beach. I did take a long walk along the Promenade, until I came to a bridge over a small river/creek/canal, the separated Viareggio from Lido di Camiore. I reached the bridge just in time to watch a boat parade off the sea coast there.

ViareggioThe beaches along this part of the sea are accessed by private establishments, so if you want to lay on the beach, or use a chair and umbrella, you must pay for that privilege. Many of these places are large enough to have a swimming pool, as well as the requisite chairs, umbrellas, snack bar, dressing rooms, showers. Each place also his its own life guard. I like that!

But from the Promenade, one cannot see the sea… therefore, I accepted the Carli’s hospitality one more time, and spent most of Saturday and Sunday afternoons, lazing under an umbrella on the beach.

Viareggio Roof PartySunday night they hosted a dinner at their apartment, and we were able to dine outside on the rooftop terrace. What a lovely evening. Both of their sons were there, as well as Magda’s sisters, and other friends, some of whom I had met before, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Monday morning I took the train back to Florence, then Tuesday got on another train to Verona, as I had a ticket for the opera, “Aida”, to be performed in the Arena, the ancient Roman coliseum there. I was so excited about that. I arrived early enough that I had the entire afternoon and evening free to see Verona.

Palazzo Carli, VeronaAlthough I had just been there in June, it was fun to see some things again, yet find other things I had not seen before. I stumbled across a beautiful Palazzo, called Palazzo Carli (pictured at right). Hmmm! Is this going to be a new rental for the enterprises? If so, I will put my bid in for this right now!

That evening I had a nice quiet, light dinner at Osteria Le Vecete, where our group had enjoyed dinner in June. Then off to the Arena for the opera.


The Arena has great acoustics. The stage settings were marvelous, and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see this wonderful opera in that setting. The weather stayed balmy; that had been a concern, as rain had been predicted for the evening, but it never happened. Such a fantastic experience. Then, like Cinderella, I had to leave the magic behind, and in the early morning, headed back to Florence. Of course, Florence has its own magic for me, so that was just fine.

Now I have prepared minestrone soup, the Genovese style soup, with no tomatoes, but pesto added. That should last the rest of the week.

Sunday is a National Holiday in Italy. I have not been able to find out the reason for the holiday, but nevertheless, there will be one. It is rather quiet in the neighborhoods now, anyway, as many of the businesses are closed for the month of August, or part of it, anyway. The San Ambrogio market only had about half the stalls that are usually there. My chicken market and the olive guy were all on holiday… but by September 1, all should be up and running again.

Even my hairdresser across the street is gone for the month, but I should not need a hair cut again for at least another few weeks. I went there 2 weeks ago and got a trim, but told him to leave the top of my hair alone, and he did. It is just now getting to a point where I can actually use a brush and hair dryer – this from the hair cut I got in June!!

So, now I will close. It is raining off and on today, so I am spending most of the day indoors, reading, catching up on things, making soup.

Ciao for now…


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Postcards From an Italian Adventure – Weekend at the Seacoast

Author: , July 31st, 2010

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Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Viareggio, Italy

Tuesday, July 13th

Friday night, after an absolutely miserable day for me… (remember the sciopero?) The heat was intense. and no air moving at all. I had done some sightseeing in the afternoon, but it was too hot to do too much. I ended up spending an hour in a bookstore, and another hour in an air conditioned cafe, having a cool drink and reading my new book.

After I got back to the apartment, Amanda came down; she and I went out to dinner, but no energy to do more that that. Sometime later, around 10:00 p.m., I emailed Massimo and Magda, and told them how miserable the heat was here in Florence.

Well, to make a long story short, the next morning they called me, and invited me to come to Viareggio. It didn’t take me long to pack; I caught a train and was at the sea coast by 1:30 p.m.

OrsonWhat a great weekend I had. The Carli’s gave me a bedroom that had belonged to one of the sons, who have since left home. The only condition was, that I had to leave the door open to the balcony, as well as to the hallway to the house, as Orson considered that room his, and would be willing to share it with me, if I met his conditions!! Which, of course, I was happy to do. Orson is the Carli’s big chow, and a wonderful roommate. He never bothered me, just wandered in and out all night, never making a sound. His heavy fur must have been keeping him as warm as I felt in Florence. I slept like a lamb, with the door to the balcony open, hearing occasional noise from the sea, which is 2 blocks away.

Almost as soon as I arrived, we had lunch, then Magda loaned me a bathing suit, and off I went to the beach, while they went to the grocery store. Niccolo, their oldest son, and his wife, were at the beach, so I visited with them for awhile, then I went swimming in the sea. The water was warm, and not deep, so I just enjoyed myself.

Going to the beach in Italy is not the same as going to the beach in the US. The Carli’s have a prime spot right near the surf. This beach spot is rented and is similar to having a slip at the marina for a boat… if one is fortunate enough to have a prime spot, you never give it up… keep it in the family forever!!

That evening, the Carli’s had guests for dinner… 2 very delightful people. The man is called Lele, I believe (I am not sure of the spelling). He is truly a Renaissance man… poet, song writer, actor, flower arranger… I am sure this is just a short list.

He was very funny, too. He did speak English, and tried to include me in the conversations (a lost cause, after a while). Leah, the other special guest, is a restaurant owner, and cook par excellence. Of course, I had to like her!! Both of Carli sons were there, Niccolo with his wife, Elena, and Jacopo, who now lives in Florence.

Massimo cooked up a wonderful sea food stew from one of Leah’s recipes, so of course, I had to have my nose in the kitchen… the stew was similar to Cioppino, but naturally, used all local seafood: white fish, shrimp, calamari, clams, mixed with tomato and herbs.

It was served in bowls over slices of toasted bread… YUMMMMMMM!! There was also Ratatouille, a frittata, many glasses of wine, Prosecco, white wine… and the conversations were just flitting around me like butterflies.

The next morning, Sunday, Massimo and I went to visit his mother. I had met her before, a couple of times. She lives in an apartment adjacent to Massimo and Magda. She has a lady who stays with her, to cook for her, and help her get around. She is pretty healthy, but will celebrate her 105th birthday next month. We had a nice visit. I was so glad I got to see her.

In the afternoon, we all went to the beach again, then later, Massimo, Magda and I went to a birthday party for Leah’s granddaughter, Anna, who had her 5th birthday. After the birthday party, back at the Carli’s apartment, we took the leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, and had dinner al fresco on the roof top terrace. Then, like all weekends, it had to come to an end, and now I am back in Florence… humidity, heat and all.

Last night I went to Fiesole for a jazz concert in the old Roman theater. That was very good, fun, and it was a bit cooler up there.

Today, the only exciting thing that happened was that I saw a pedestrian get hit by a motor scooter. It was the pedestrian’s fault for trying to run against traffic on Via Cavour, a quite busy street. I don’t think he was hurt too badly, but he was complaining of pain in his legs, so the ambulance came and took him away. The scooter driver took a spill, as well, but he had his helmet on, and did not appear to be injured. I knew that the odds of this happening where I would see it, were very high. I am just glad it wasn’t me that was in the incident.

So, for now I will say, buono notte, and try to get some sleep. The air conditioner is working, thank goodness, so perhaps I will sleep through the night tonight.

This adventure is really very fun. In spite of the heat, Florence is still a fabulous city. I haven’t even touched on all there is to do here.

I love and miss all of you, but this is truly the adventure of a lifetime, with more excitement and new things to come.

Ciao for now.


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