Monday, August 30, 2010
East Hampton is a historic village offering visitors a glimpse to the past - majestic old elms, green expanses, windmills - of the English, not Dutch variety - and the famous Town Pond with its picturesque swans and a 300-year-old cemetery. Close by are many charming boutiques, antique shops, art galleries, and world-class restaurants and gourmet food shops. For the sports enthusiast there is world-class saltwater fishing, sailing, surfing, golf, tennis, hiking and horseback riding. And, of course, there are the beaches; the ocean beaches in the Hamptons are considered some of the most beautiful in the world, with mile after mile of pristine sand, dunes and pounding surf.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
After touring Florence, we took a day trip to the medieval city, San Gimignano located in the Sienna provence. It is about an hour south of Florence. The quaint town is known for its well preserved 14 medieval towers. I thought the town was worth a stop for the architecture, shopping, as well as a visit to the Etruscan Museum and the Romanesque-gothic church of Sant'Agostino. If you hike to the top of the city, you can get a spectacular view of the Tuscan countryside. If you are a shopper, there are numerous stores containing pottery, wines, and other hand made items. If you are looking for a bed and breakfast from which to base your Sienna travels, see Casa Portagioia.
Friday, August 20, 2010
After touring Venice, we traveled to the Tuscany Region with the intent to stay in Florence. I think the best lodging locations are close to the city center if you want to be able to really experience the city. Check out San Lorenzo Bed and Breakfast for a convenient city center location. However, if you would rather be located in the countryside, Al Podere Le Cave is a wonderful choice.
The city of Florence was of course the birth place of the renaissance and it and the surrounding area are packed with art, churches, and history from this period. The city center is dominated by the Santa Maria del Fiore and I have to admit it took my breath away. It lived up to all of my expectations. I was also amazed by how much art is packed into Florence. It is really an open air museum. You can see many great works of art just by walking the city.
If you are only in the city a few days, this is what I would suggest. Tour the Santa Maria del Fiore and climb to the top of the Dome. The views of the city and surrounding countryside are amazing. While in this location, take an hour to tour the Museum of the Cathedral to see Michelangelo's "Pieta." If you only have time to visit two major museums, make Galleria dell'Accademia (home to Michelangelo's "David") and The "Uffizi Gallery" home to numerous renaissance masters your top stops. I would suggest purchasing tickets ahead of time so that you can just walk into both museums rather than standing in line. If you like science, the Museo Galileo should also be on your list.
If you are a shopper, Florence is known for its leather. You can purchase a really well made leather coat, satchel, or shoes at the many stores located through out the city. Just make sure that you are buying Florentine leather, not a Chinese knock off.
Dining in Florence varies depending what you are looking for. There are numerous cafes located throughout the city where you can grab a slice pizza or sample some gelato. If you want a sit down dinner, you could pick just about and sidewalk cafe and do well. I had wonderful meals with extremely fresh vegetables, wonderfully seasoned meats, and delicious pasta all paired with a very simple house wine.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
We started our second day in Venice by taking a water taxi over from Lido. Once in Venice, we started the day by going to Campanile di San Marco and taking the elevator to the bell tower to enjoy an amazing view of the surrounding area. We also took advantage of small lines, and decided to tour Saint Mark's Basilica. The entrance is free, but we paid to get access to the museum. It was worth it. The church is really spectacular and is full of well preserved mosaics and we were treated to an amazing pipe organ concert while we were there. We had a quick lunch and then continued touring. We made our way to the The Peggy Guggenheim Museum. The museum holds pieces of art from the 20th century and was really worth a look. Our final stop of the day was the San Giorgio Maggiore, a 16th Century church. We had to take a water taxi to the island on which the church resides.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Day 1 - Venice
I started my trip, with my family along for the ride, in Venice, Italy. We flew into the Venice airport, collected our luggage, and took a water taxi to Lido, Italy. I chose Lido because it has easy access to Venice and offers more of a relaxed seaside setting for the family to come back to after a day of touring in Venice. For accommodations, our guide offers two Lido bed and breakfasts, Casa Mari Bed & Breakfast and Oasis Bed and Breakfast.
Once situated, we purchased tickets on the waterbus and in 10 minutes we were in St. Marks Square. We took a guided tour through the Doges' Palace and then spent the remainder of our time wandering through canals, stopping at vendors for a cup of fruit or a slice of pizza. For travelers who want to be on the island of Venice, we also offer three bed and breakfasts Sandra Bed and Breakfast, BBvenezia, and Al Campaniel Guest House. All of these B&Bs are in locations perfect for experiencing Venice's waterways.
After a day of touring Venice, we came back to Lido had a leisurely dinner, walked to the end of our street and took a stroll on the beach leading to the Adriatic Sea.