A Bit of Italy

One of our justifications for our expat lifestyle, especially living in Europe, is that we can easily travel to so many other interesting places.  Reality, however, has not lived up to our expectations; we have not traveled near as much as we had hoped to.  (See some of our travels on the Environs page.)

Yet this November we did make an excellent journey to visit friends in Umbria, Italy.  This is definitely one of the benefits of our travelling life; we have made friends from all around the world.  This couple from California share ownership of a country villa in the hills above one of Italy’s largest lakes, Lake Trasimeno.  If you want to spend time among Italy’s hill towns we highly recommend their place:  3 bedrooms and a pool from 680 Euro per week–contact me for their contact info.

hill town center off seasonWe had the advantage of them showing us some of their favourite locations and restaurants in the region.  Italian food as the Italians enjoy it!  Highlights for us included Cortona and Assisi, two of the popular hill towns but off-season.  We took two day trips on the train to Florence and left by train to Venice for two nights in an apartment there.

By the way, it is interesting to note that our flights between Prague and Milan were less than 100 Euro each round trip while our 5 train trips within northern Italy totaled more than 160 Euro for each person.  They have no Senior discounts.

Florence center architectureWe found it intriguing to compare our familiarity of other European cities with those of Italy. Passing through we were quite impressed with the huge and elegant Milan Central Train Station.  Florence, too, was impressive in its solid architecture and the high quality of its public art.  Yet we felt it did not have the charm of Prague.  The highlight of Florence was being in the presence of the original David by Michelangelo; all the photos and videos we have seen do not convey the power that fills the hall around this statue.

typical Venice common beautyVenice also weaved a magic spell around us.  We have traveled extensively and found one big city tends to be like another big city except for its own few unique sites.  That is not the case in Venice!  Here its uniqueness as a whole pervades every view and vista.  Even the delivery men and garbage collectors are charming.  It was such fun to just wander down any path or over any canal bridge that struck our fancy and not worry about being lost–on an island all paths lead to the sea.

Venice in my mind now rates with Istanbul as a city that I want to return to even though there are many great places in other parts of the world that I have not yet visited.  I had better get cracking with our travel plans.  See you later . . .

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