An Italian Road Trip

Mike and Sandy, along with 30 folks from their Danville church, finished up a week-long cruise from Rome to Barcelona on the sailing yacht Wind Surf, and flew back to Italy for a 9-day road trip. This adventure, with friends Janet and Roland, was in three parts, starting at Siena, then moving to the Cinque Terre region on the west coast, and last to the area up north around Lake Como.

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The accomodations in Siena were in this villa, just east of the city. One day was spent sight-seeing in the old town of Siena, including the magnificent cathedral. The next day was an excursion to two nearby small medieval walled cities -- with narrow pedestrian-only streets -- set on hilltops: San Gimignano and Volterra. Of course after any day of sightseeing, dinner on the terrace of our villa in the hills above Siena was always delightful!

Heading northwest, the tourists took off for the Cinque Terre ("Five Lands") region on the west coast, making a brief stop on the way at Lucca, famous for its 500-year old city walls, still completely intact around the "Old Town." The 5 villages of the Cinque Terre (taken together, a UNESCO World Heritage site) are basically holiday towns along the rugged coast, some right on the water, and some high on the cliff side. The towns are connected by train, hiking trails, and boats. This is the view in front of Mike & Sandy's hotel in Monterosso, and a view of Vernazza, just down the coast a little ways. The last day saw Mike and Roland brave one of the over-the-mountain hiking trails between these two towns -- not for the weak or faint-hearted, but they made it!

Now the group turned inland, heading north towards Lake Como. But on the way was the Serravalle Italian Designer Outlet ("one of the largest designer outlets in Europe!") so a stop seemed in order -- we needed lunch, after all. After eyeing all of the stores, we traveled on to Italy's Lake District, which boasts lots of tourist and holiday-oriented towns along the various shorelines. It is in one sense somewhat like the Cinque Terre, but definitely more alpine, more "up market," and more "old money." Our B&B in the town of Bellagio positioned us to enjoy the natural beauty, as well as opportunities to check out the shops and restaurants.

All too soon, it was time to put the camera away, and prepare to return home. Nicely updated rooms in an old villa, somewhat oddly located just across the highway from the big Milan airport, provided the opportunity to relax and have one more nice Italian dinner, all within a stone's throw of the departure gates. The next morning the big silver birds beckoned us, and we bid Arrivederci to Italy, and goodbye to our friends, who headed back home to Colorado Springs.
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