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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for Toscana, Italy

Jun 2, 2018 - Castles and Chianti

Saturday 2nd June: An afternoon in Chianti. This morning was very leisurely as we had booked a tour “Castles and Chianti” for the afternoon. We were picked up by Daniel from the hotel at 2pm and, after collecting another six people, set of for the castle. This was Montiriggione, high up on a hill not far out of Siena. We were given half an hour to wander around and appreciate the view and the old citadel. As it was a public holiday, there were many people out enjoying the same and the lovely weather. Then we drove through the very...

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Jun 1, 2018 - Siena

Friday 1st June: Another day in Siena. This time we planned to get up earlier and beat the crowds to the Duomo, etc. It was lovely walking through Siena with few people about but the plans went awry when we found that nothing opened before 10am. So we filled in time wandering and then headed for the museum which contained many of the original artefacts taken from the Duomo. This was also the entry to the Panorama del Facciatone, the abandoned nave of the extension to the cathedral that was never completed. It is accessed by a tiny entrance...

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May 30, 2018 - Pisa

Wednesday 30th May: A day in Pisa. On previous trips we had avoided Pisa but this time we decided to go for the day. We walked to the train station about 1km away. The regional trains are fast and, with a quick change in Empoli, we arrived in Pisa about 11.00am and walked up through town to The Field of Miracles stopping for a coffee on the way. It was a grey day with rain expected but that did not deter the crowds and the white and pale grey marble of the Cathedral, Tower, Baptistery and Camposanto stood out magnificently in their sea of...

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May 29, 2018 - Siena

Tuesday 29th May: Part of our package included a walking tour of Siena and we booked it for late this morning. The hotel is about 3km out of the city but the bus stops at the door in both directions so it was not hard to reach the city. The bus trips were fast and furious as the Sienese bus drivers seem to run to a very tight schedule. We found our way to the side of the Campo where we were to meet the guide and as we had time we booked a tour called Chianti and Castles for Saturday afternoon. A number of other people joined the walking...

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May 28, 2018 - Siena

Monday 28th May: A day of traveling: Time now to move from Sorrento to Siena. We had booked our tickets on the train for 10.15am so did not have to rush. Donatella came in to see us off after breakfast and we said goodbye to her and Daniella who had looked after us very well. We were fortunate in having the B&B totally to ourselves for three nights and scarcely saw the other guests on the other two nights. The time in Sorrento was very pleasant and relaxing (apart from the day trips away!). After the short walk back to the station, this...

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May 11, 2018 - Siena and my Italian school

Just at the end of the first of two weeks at language school, here in Siena. I am in a very personalised class, with only 1 other student! This week, there were only 20 students in total at the school, spread over 5 different levels. I was placed in the most advanced class currently being taught (the more advanced classes that are theoretically available are for university students or for students where Italian is effectively their mother tongue, but there were no such students at the school now). So, I’m obviously making good progress...

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May 4, 2018 - Exploring the towns of Lucca and Arezzo

During my one week stay in Florence, I have so far made two day trips by train: the first to Lucca, a walled city in western Tuscany near Pisa, and the second to Arezzo, an ancient Etruscan (before the Romans) city in western Tuscany. The photos probably make Lucca seem more appealing (the one day with blue skies in an otherwise rainy week), but I was totally enchanted by the brooding, medieval atmosphere of Arezzo. Unlike many Tuscan hilltop towns, Lucca is completely flat and surrounded by an elevated 4km city wall. Many visitors walk or...

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Feb 17, 2018 - Pisa

The return ferry ride from Elba to the mainland was smooth as silk and as soon as we disembarked we headed for the hills. Those hills being any around the Pisa area with old hilltop towns and there were plenty. Volterra was one of the big ones but by accident we came across Massa Marittima and it was fantastic. They all have fascinating similarities but some have something special, MM was one of those. So we lingered longer, and had a coffee, or two. We decided to base ourselves for a few days in an area dating back to the 1st Century and...

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Trip Journal


the islands

Feb 5, 2018 - on the road to Florence

Our departure from Verona started off well with an early bus from Piazza Bra. Sadly we overran our rail terminal destination and had to walk a few blocks back to the airport shuttle depot. Not a great start and things didn't get a whole lot better. Davey-o boarded the shuttle through the middle door which upset the ZZ Top look alike driver no end. He shut the door on Gilli-ette which didn't go down well. A driver change with a fresh attitude and all was good. Things were also good at the airport terminal where we picked up our hire car,...

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Feb 5, 2018 - Florence

Collecting our rental car went way more smoothly than that in Verona and we actually were given what we had ordered 6 months earlier. In fact we gained diesel at no extra charge. This was a good sign. We headed off in our nippy little Fiat Punto through hilly landscapes and small towns in the direction of the Mediterranean and our rental unit at Moneglia, slightly north of the Cinque Terre. A little rain here and there was of no concern just like the road traffic, there was almost none. Stone quarries dominated many of the small villages...

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Trip Journal


the islands

Oct 16, 2017 - Florence

Last day of trip today. Decided we would do the Renaissance walk as described in Rick Steve's book on Italy, Florence section. Started off by visiting the Duomo Museum. Incredible sculptures by Michaelangelo, Donatello and Bernini among others. Also quite a few paintings and artifacts from the Middle Ages. The two best were Michaelangelo's Pieta and Donatello's Mary Magdeline. The latter carved from white poplar and still in wonderful condition. After the museum we made our way to Palazza Vecchio to see the copy of Michaelangelo's David. I...

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Trip Journal


Adriatic Cruise

Oct 15, 2017 - Florence

Up early to catch the 7:00 AM water shuttle from our hotel to the train station to catch our 9:00 AM train. Couldn't see a thing on the 20 minute ride due to very thick fog. Venetians say the fog is a sign that winter is coming. The train travelled at a pedestrian speed of 300 KMH and we arrived in Florence and our hotel around noon. We had an appointed time at 2:15 for admittance to the Accademia to view the statue of David. Lots of other sculptures and art here as well but obviously David was the draw. Being Oct 15 it was not busy and we...

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Trip Journal


Adriatic Cruise

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