Blog: April 2008

Assisi and San Gimignano

Posted on April 27, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Greetings from beautiful Tuscany! We arrived in this famous Italian region yesterday from Assisi and were really bowled over by the beauty of the countryside. Umbria was lovely but Tuscany is even better - rolling green hills covered in trees of all different shades of green, grassy meadows with red poppies, olive groves and vineyards. We're staying in the Villa Ducci outside the hill town of San Gimignano, not too far from Siena...

Splendid Spoleto

Posted on April 24, 2008 by Holly Hayes
We loved Spoleto, a smallish town in a beautiful location overlooking the Umbrian countryside. It is filled with old and interesting churches, the streets and buildings have an authentic medieval feel, and the shops and restaurants are excellent. But they aren't kidding when they call it a hill town - those streets were some of the steepest we've encountered yet! Unfortunately a lot of the town was under renovation and there was scaffolding everywhere, but at least it wasn't on the churches...

Rome Day 2

Posted on April 22, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Ancient tombstone displayed in San Lorenzo Our second full day in Rome was a bit shorter, slower paced, and (sadly) a whole lot cloudier. Not surprisingly, neither of us was thrilled about getting up for the earliest shuttle bus again, so we headed out on the 10:30 bus and didn't arrive in the city until well after 11. That left us rather rushed to make it on foot to our first church of the day before noon! But we made it, even with getting a bit lost and stopping for a kebab and foccacia bread along the way...

A Long, Busy and Fun Day in Rome

Posted on April 20, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Greetings from Spoleto! This is a fantastic town and we've had such a nice stay here. The weather has been beautiful (mostly sunny and low 70s) and we've visited wonderful churches, a castle, and taken in some beautiful views. The region of Umbria is gorgeous - green, hilly, and full of lovely little towns - and if our meals in Spoleto are anything to go on, the food is delicious too! Unfortunately the internet access at our hotel has been pretty poor, at least in our third-floor room, but tonight I've set up the laptop in the lobby where the signal is strong so I can catch up a little...

Arrival in Rome

Posted on April 18, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Our two days in Rome were a whirlwind! We walked about nine hours each day and took about a gazillion photos of churches and ancient ruins. Most of the walking was actually more like hiking - the "seven hills of Rome" isn't just an expression! It was exhausting, but also fabulous. There really is nothing like Rome and the amount of interesting sights is incredible...

Anagni and San Benedetto

Posted on April 14, 2008 by Holly Hayes
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Anagni Cathedral was a real highlight, thanks to its castle-like appearance and magnificent frescoed crypt. Anagni was the birthplace (and frequent residence) of four popes in the 1200s and its cathedral reflects that importance. {ph48} View from southeast, with handy parking lot. {ph43} A fine little Italian car next to the cathedral...

Beautiful, Peaceful (and Delicious!) Fossanova

Posted on April 13, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Our stay in Fossanova was short but absolutely fantastic. We were there to see its Cistercian abbey (above), but the little village that surrounds it was an unexpected highlight as well. It was so charming, peaceful and beautiful. Amazingly, the Abbey of Fossanova is not nearly as popular with visitors as nearby (45 minutes) Casamari Abbey...

Quick Trip to Capri from Sorrento

Posted on April 11, 2008 by Holly Hayes
The spectacular view from our Sorrento hotel room - a cruise ship sailing past Capri. Today we went into Sorrento for lunch, which was decent pizza and lasagna right on the harbor. Very fun. Then we took the 2:30 ferry to Capri island. We haven't downloaded any photos from today yet and I want to go to bed, so unfortunately it will have to be all words for now...

Amalfi Coast Drive to Paestum

Posted on April 11, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Tonight is our last night in Sorrento and I'm sorry to say we never had enough sunshine in which to enjoy our balcony and pool. But we have had a good time nonetheless and seen some interesting sights. We decided to ditch Pompeii after realizing we didn't care quite enough about it to drive almost all the way to Naples and endure the summer crowds and prices...

Southern Italy Coast-to-Coast: Puglia to Sorrento

Posted on April 7, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Sorrento This morning we left Puglia and drove about three hours west across Italy to the opposite coast. We had some difficulty getting started, due to ambiguous directions from our sat-nav, but then we were cruising west on the Autostrada. The middle of the country was quite pretty, with green rolling hills. But then we started to approach Naples...

Puglian Cathedrals

Posted on April 6, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Friday and Saturday were cloudy and rainy and we spent most of the time at the hotel, but we did manage to squeeze two more Puglian cathedrals in between the raindrops. And Sunday was glorious in every way. Friday: Rain in Bitonto Friday was especially rainy so we visited Bitonto, the cathedral with the most interior interest, in the hopes it would be open...

Ruvo di Puglia

Posted on April 4, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Our current base, for four full days, is the town of Ruvo di Puglia. We are quite close to the heel of the boot now and near the Adriatic Sea coast. Ruvo is a nice little town in itself and it makes a great base to explore all the Romanesque cathedrals and interesting seaside towns in the area. We arrived on Wednesday around noon after a very smooth checkout and drive from Lucera...

San Giovanni Rotondo, Monte Sant'Angelo, Troia Cathedral

Posted on April 4, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Greetings from rainy Ruvo di Puglia! More on our current base soon, but first I have to back up to Monday (March 31) because it was really fun and interesting. We spent a long but good day of driving to three sights from our base in Lucera: San Giovanni Rotondo, Monte Sant'Angelo and Troia. San Giovanni Rotondo First up was the town of San Giovanni Rotondo, home to the shrine of a miracle-working monk named Padre Pio (died 1968, canonized 2002)...

Down the Italian East Coast: Pesaro to Lucera

Posted on April 1, 2008 by Holly Hayes
From Como we drove down the Autostrada (freeway) almost four hours to our stopover in Pesaro. We paid a somewhat hefty toll for the privilege, amounting to almost 20 euros total, but it is always worth it to us to pay tolls for the better roads and less traffic. We went past some interesting cities, including Ravenna, Parma, and Bologna, but we will try to visit some of those (especially Ravenna) on our way back up north...