• europe,  italy,  travel

    A Road Trip through Tuscany

    Tuscany has always conjured up romantic images of golden-hued landscapes, with its rolling hills and cypress-lined roads. I had a mind to just jump in a car and drive–see what we stumbled across. As a result, I put much less planning into this portion of our Italian adventure than the Dolomites, taking a more on-the-fly sort of approach. As a result, I discovered that things like tours of renowned wineries book up very quickly and needed to have been reserved…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    Cinque Terre

    Our final stop in Italy was the famed Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”), part of the Cinque Terre National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), along the northwest coast of Italy. These clusters of brightly-coloured villages, seemingly tumbling down the hillside into the Ligurian Sea, have so captured the imagination of travellers around the world that it should have been no surprise to find these destinations to be extremely busy. Each of the five villages have their own character and unique…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    Venice: City of Canals

    There has always been a kind of magic to Venice, this floating city on the Adriatic Sea, built on over 100 little islands. Its unique appeal, perhaps unsurprisingly, has led to a real overtourism problem–over 20 million people visit every year (half of which are day trippers from cruise ships and the like), and indeed multiple friends warned me off Venice to avoid the throngs of tourists. But ultimately, it was an ideally-located city to fly into before heading north…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    The Italian Dolomites: Tre Cime di Lavaredo

    Three seems to be a magic number. Three Musketeers. Three Stooges. Three Men and a Baby. So perhaps it is no surprise that this trio of mountain peaks, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, is such a popular spot in the Dolomites. In fact, I seem to have a penchant for triple mountain towers, as hiking to see the Torres del Paine for sunrise was the impetus for my trip to Chile. Tre Cime was my last real stop in the Dolomites–a…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    The Italian Dolomites: Gran Cir

    One of my bucket list items while in the Dolomites was to hike the Gran Cir Via Ferrata at Passo Gardena. Via ferrata literally translates in Italian as “iron path”, which are protected climbing routes found in the Alps involving steel cables, rungs, or ladders secured to the rock face, to which climbers would typically affix harnesses. The via ferrata portion of this hike was reputed to be quite short and relatively easy, which is why I felt it would…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    The Italian Dolomites: Val Gardena

    It was only a short drive from the Alpe di Siusi to what would be our base for 3 days, Ortisei, the main village of the Val Gardena. Fun fact for the linguists: the majority language in the area is actually Ladin, a Romance language which is now the officially recognized language in South Tyrol. This charming town of just under 5000 people had everything we needed and was centrally-located, serving as a good jumping-off point for the region. Seceda…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    The Italian Dolomites: Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)

    Alpe di Siusi (or Seiser Alm, as it’s called in German) is a Dolomite plateau, considered the largest high-altitude Alpine meadow in Europe. As part of the Dolomites, it’s been classified as an UNESCO World Heritage site. It was to be our first stop in our tour of the Italian Dolomites. This epic mountain range, which was the impetus for my originally-planned trip to Italy in 2020 (which went awry due to world events), is located in South Tyrol, the…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    Endless ceilings – Day 14

    Photos A sadly abbreviated post, but at least something for the record! My last day in Florence was a relaxing one, as I made my way around the gorgeous Palazzo Vecchio. It was just a never-ending parade of gorgeous ceilings, painted with scenes of mythological figures such as the trials of Hercules.

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    Statues and paintings and tapestries…oh my! – Day 13

    Photos As I’m horrible at keeping up with things, this will be a highly abbreviated summary of the day’s events. Today was the day for the Uffizi Gallery, and I had tickets booked for the afternoon. Before I went, I popped into the Bargello National Museum, which is primarily devoted to sculptures (one of my favourite art forms). After perusing its extensive sculpture collection, I headed to the Uffizi. Its collection was massive, though I was a bit sad that…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    The other David – Day 12

    Photos It was to be a relatively relaxing day, as the only “cultural” activity I had planned was visiting the Galleria dell’Accademia to see David (the other one) in the late afternoon. I did plan to get in all of my shopping, so I made my way across the river mid-morning to do some browsing. My first stop was back at the Mercato Centrale, as I had a few requests from back home for silk scarves and tasty balsamic vinegar.