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

5 Interesting Facts about the Doge’s Palace in Venice – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 8th, 2018

Doge's Palace - Keep Calm and Wander

If anything that strikes our minds after hearing the name “Italy”, it is definitely Venice – a city where everything is shrouded in romance and intrigue. Doge’s Palace, in particular, is one of those places.

Here are some interesting facts about it.

1. It exhibits Gothic Architecture

The architectural exuberance of the palace is the first thing that meets the eyes of an onlooker. The building is purely gothic; however, there is a huge influence of the Venetian art; thus, making it Venetian Gothic style.

2. The “White House” in its heyday

This palace was the central government building at its peak time. “Doge of Venice” or the ruler used to live here with his family for his lifetime.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Venice Gay Travel Resources

Inside the Pisa Cathedral – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 7th, 2018

Pisa Cathedral - Keep Calm and Wander

The Pisa Cathedral marks the zenith of the architectural power of Pisa at the time of its creation by having bits from the Islamic, Byzantine, Lombard-Emilian, and classical architecture. Lying peacefully in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), it gleams in multi-colors, courtesy of the different types of marbles that it is adorned with, especially cosmatesque marble.

1. The marble facade

Unlike the exterior, the cathedral’s interior depicts much more decorations and ornamentations. The Romanesque façade of the cathedral is made of pastel-colored marble that is designed divinely by the students of Giambolongna.

While the three doors leading inside were constructed or cast after the deadly fire of 1595, an original door “The Door of San Ranieri” designed by Bonnano Pisano still stands and provides a way in from the southern transept.

2. Medieval and Renaissance art

The interior of the cathedral has a mixture of the Renaissance and Medieval architecture. This mixture has been a result of the fire of 1595. After the destruction of most of the Medieval parts of the cathedral, they were rebuilt in the Renaissance style as it was popular back then.

The surviving Medieval pieces include Tomb of Emperor Henry VII, originally sculpted by Tino di Camaino, and the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, which has been recently placed in its original place after being found dismantled.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Baptistery of Pisa – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 3rd, 2018

Baptistery of Pisa - Keep Calm and Wander

Located in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), on the west coast of Italy, the Baptistery of Pisa forms one of the four buildings. In fact, it comes second in the chronological order, neighboring the Duomo di Pisa, the cathedral, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It is an ecclesiastical building, and throughout history, it has played a keen role in the religious scene in Pisa. This actually shows in the multiple architectural veils that it is draped in. The lower side has arches and pillars that hint towards the Romanesque style, but the upper levels show a stark Gothic style with pointed figures and closely spaced pillars.

The entrance to the edifice is covered with ornate pillars and reliefs, in which the upper one depicts the life of Saint John and the middle one shows Christ flanked by Saint John and Madonna and surrounded by several angels.

The Baptistery of Pisa – Where Galileo Was Baptized

This baptistery is famous for its architecture and also for the following things.

1. The Acoustics: Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni Pisano have done an outstanding job by designing the interior that it facilitates reverberations or acoustics. Anyone standing below the edge of the dome can have his voice echoed. Every 30 minutes, one of the employees would sing loud to demonstrate the power of its acoustics.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Visiting Venerable and Vivacious Vernazza – Dolly Travels

Author: , August 30th, 2018

Vernazza

Buona sera, tutti,

I am sitting at the Bar Ananasso, on the main piazza in Vernazza. I am looking out at the sea as I savor a new beverage, a limoncino spritz. Actually, I have never ordered one at a bar, but I do believe our traveling group invented this at the apartment in Florence, back in 2008. We called it Tuscan Lemonade. Whatever it is called it is delicious.

The time is 7:30 p.m. The sun seems to still be high in the sky, but the air is becoming a bit cooler. We arrived here in the early afternoon; as usual, we were very hungry. We went to the restaurant that sits at the very end of the harbor, where we could see the sea, and enjoy our lunch.

Later, the kids wanted to explore on their own; as I found out later, Heather went for a hike, Danny went for a nap. I went for a walk, also, but not as adventurous as Heather’s. This area is so lovely, especially now, at the end of the day, when the cruise ship passengers have left, the day trippers have left. Looking about me now, the restaurants on this piazza are full, but the area around me has just a few of us who are waiting to enjoy the sunset.

As I walked through the town today, I saw how well Vernazza has recovered from the terrible flood of October, 2011. The shops and the restaurants have been restored; life goes on as before. The old men were still paying cards at the tables on the piazza. The nonne (grandparents) were still spoiling the little ones with gelati.

This evening, I walked around the little town and observed the people winding down for the night, tourists and locals as well.

The church in the background is still one of my favorite places to visit. I wonder how many prayers have been offered for the safety of the fishermen from this church over the ages. The church was established in early 1300’s. Inside, the decor is simple, gothic style. It is still lovely.

Finally, the sun did set, leaving me with a serene view of the Ligurian Sea. I am so happy that we came here. Although I was a bit sad to leave Florence, I knew that this village would soothe my soul, and indeed it has. The sound of the sea is so calming, although I have seen this same quiet sea when it has lost its temper.

I will leave you with this vision of Vernazza. Tomorrow is another day, and I am certain I will have more pictures to show you.

Buona notte.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Vernazza Gay Travel Resources

Where to Have a Gay Wedding in Italy -The Nomadic Boys

Author: , August 24th, 2018

Since our engagement in Cartagena in Colombia, we’ve been researching wedding venues and ideas for destinations for our own ceremony. We attended our friends’ gay wedding ceremony in Gallipoli in South Italy and completely fell in love, feeling totally inspired at the same time.

Gay Wedding in Italy

Although Italy remains one of Western Europe’s more conservative countries with regards to LGBTQ rights and still has a ban in place for same sex marriages, steps are slowly being taken in the right direction. In particular, civil unions for same sex couples (called “unioni Civili” in Italian) were introduced in June 2016. This has spiked interest in Italy as a destination wedding for LGBTQ couples.

Following on from our travels in Italy and researching the best places for our own wedding, we’ve put together our 5 best destinations for a gay wedding in Italy:

Gorgeous Gallipoli in Puglia
Gallipoli is the main gay hotspot in the Puglia region of Italy. Over the years it’s grown massively with gay tourists, due to its mix of gay friendly beaches and fun gay events. This has made it ideal for gay wedding destination in Italy.

We attended our friends’ Unioni Civili at Villa dei Fiori Eventi, located just outside of Gallipoli main town and absolutely loved it. The registrar from the town hall attended to officiate the ceremony, which was held outdoors. Everything was spot on, from the choice of music, decor, food and music. Definitely one to consider, especially as Puglia has so much to offer gay travellers for a honeymoon. Also check out our 5 best gay friendly hotels in Puglia for more inspiration.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Italy 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

From Orvieto to Florence – Dolly Travels

Author: , August 15th, 2018

Orvietto - Dolly Travels

Buona sera, tutti,

I realize that I haven’t told you about Orvieto yet. When we left Rome, we went to the hill town of Orvieto, in Umbria. This ancient town sits like a mushroom above the Umbrian valley. It is a lovely old city, with its stone walls and ancient building. The city itself dates back to 900 B.C. This turned out to be not the best trip I have ever made to Orvieto: no one reason, but several things happened that no one had control over. First, the funicular that is supposed to take passengers from the train station up to the old town, was broken. We had to go on a bus. Then the shuttle bus from the little station was not running (so we were told), so we walked about a mile, pulling our luggage behind us. By the time we got to our hotel, we were tired and starving.

However, pizza was not far away. After a good late lunch, I had to take a nap, while Danny and Heather went exploring. Dinner that night consisted of gelato.

The following day our activity was thwarted, also, for we had planned to take a bus to the city of Bagnoreggio and walk to another ancient city, Civita. This could not happen, for the rains and thunderstorms came. I did not want to walk across that footbridge from Bagnoreggio to Civita in a thunderstorm. The walk is scary enough to me in good weather. Heather had her heart set on doing a hike through and around the mountain that Orvieto sits upon. Off they went; several hours later, after walking 3 miles and climbing or descending 43 sets of stairs, they emerged back into town, soaking wet.

I stayed in town, walked up and down a few of the streets, found a place for cappuccino and spent the morning writing. After that, I visited this beautiful cathedral. The Gothic facade is spectacular.

We ended our evening with dinner at Trattoria da Carlo, with a typical regional menu. Carlo not only was our chef, but our waiter as well, along with his Mama and one other waiter. The pasta was homemade with choices of different sauces; simple meat dishes but very tasty. After dinner, we took another quiet stroll, then off to bed for us, to be ready for our train ride into Florence on Thursday morning.

Once again, all three of us were hungry when we arrived in Florence, so first item on our agenda was lunch. We went across the street to one of my favorite places, the L’OK Cucina e Ristorante…eight years ago, when I first started hanging out there, it was the OK Bar. Now Christina owns the place, has enlarged it and turned it into a first class dining establishment.

I was going through cooking withdrawal, so after lunch, we went to the Conad market and bought food to cook for dinner. I think we all enjoyed our simple home-cooked meal, then relaxed while watching the World Cup game on television in our own living room.

Later, we took an evening stroll. The weather was a bit breezy, but sweater weather.

Today, we started by visiting the Galleria Accademia, where the kids got a first look at David. He stands on a pedestal that is about 6 feet tall, and the man himself is 17 feet tall. Massive and impressive, of course.

I love it that so many of the merchants remember me. It makes me feel like a really am a Fiorentina.

After our lunch, at home, of fresh bread, salami, cheese and fruit, we are all ready for our siesta. We will venture out again this evening, for the “passiagetta”, or our version of that walk, while we find more good places in Florence. The kids are enjoying Florence so much that we may not take more than one side trip. There is just too much to see and savor in this Renaissance city, my true second home.

Until next time,
Arrivederci,

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Orvieto Gay Travel Resources

Florence Gay Travel Resources

Ten Awesome Things to Do in Gay Puglia – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , August 11th, 2018

Ten Awesome Things to Do in Gay Puglia - The Nomadic Boys

Puglia is the heel of long-legged Italy and one of the country’s underrated gems. It has plenty of gorgeous beaches, delicious food and unique architecture to explore, with far fewer crowds than in Venice or Rome.

Puglia is famous for producing around 40% of Italy’s olive oil, as well as bread and pasta, which is why it is nicknamed the “bread basked of Italy”. Puglia also has the longest coastline of Italy – over 800km / 500 miles, so you know you’re guaranteed to find excellent beaches here. Lecce is an example of one of the many architectural gems in Puglia – a city comprised of Baroque architecture, earning it the epithet, “the Florence of the South”.

There’s plenty to do in gay Puglia to plan your holiday just in this region. We did a road trip here and put together our 10 favourite things to do in Puglia for gay travellers:

Gallipoli: the best gay scene in Puglia

We love Gallipoli old town in the evening. It’s always buzzing with life, buskers performing in the streets, cool little boutique shops and excellent restaurants. Gallipoli is also is the heart of Puglia’s gay scene with a handful of bars worth checking out.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Gay Puglia Travel Resources

 

Ten Things to Do in Venice – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , August 10th, 2018

Venice - Keep Calm and Wander

Lying on 117 small islands, Venice is an Italian haven for tourists, cradling 250,000 residents. I had the pleasure of visiting it last summer. Here’s my list.

1. San Marco Cathedral and Square

A perfect place to people-watch, San Marco square has three famous tourist sites, namely Doge’s Palace, San Marco Cathedral, and Torre dell’Orologio.

2. Doge Palace / Palazzo Ducale

Next to the San Marco Cathedral is a true masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Doge Palace or the Palazzo Ducale has served as the seat of the Venetian government in the past. All the remains of that and the gothic past of the palace are all too mesmerizing.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Venice Gay Travel Resources