Friday, July 22, 2016

Week 4 - Vaiano

We left Rome Saturday the 16th in a rented van

and headed north to a small town just up the valley from Florence.
Such a blissful place!

We've had a lovely week here.  Most of our days have been spent reading and playing cards.  Taking walks...which has provided some great work outs due to the hills.

 Of course there are always some jobs to do as well.

One day we drove north through the mountains to Modena to see the Ferrari museum.

  The boys are both very interested in cars.  
Jake nearly jumped out of the van when this thing passed us on the highway.  

Dino found his namesake car - the Dino - created in 1972 in fact.  Obviously he has to own one.  He has begun his penny jar and should have the hundred thousand collected in no time.

We experienced our first break down of the trip.  8 weeks of travel together - it had to happen
 sometime.  And guess what?  It happened to me.  The drive through the mountains was very pretty...teeny towns miraculously suspended to the sides of the mountains.  Narrow roads with hairpin turns.  A few very large trucks popping around the bend toward us.  A bit too much loud music in the van and me passengering rather than driving caused a very big cry once we arrived on level ground.  A very big cry and a lot of deep breathing.  And a different route on our way back.

To calm my nerves we had an IKEA visit.  

Nothing like some houseware gazing and comfort food to calm your nerves.

We spent a day in Florence which was a very quick trip by train.
Such a pretty city!

We wanted to purchase some house numbers as a souvenir from Italy.  I love the ceramic tiles that dot the cities numbering off each address.

Our hosts told us where to look and we found this sweet old family run store.  Our tile will arrive in Canada about the same time we do!

Vaiano is a small town with few tourists.  Not many people speak English.  We had a great adventure one night in a restaurant where the menu had no translations and the waitress spoke no English.  She wasn't joking when she showed us how big Jake's calzone would be.

I had "grilled fish" which turned out to be shrimp, calamari and branzino.
 Everything was eccellente!!

Tomorrow we will drive further north to a very small village just under Lake Garda.  We will miss our beautiful spot here on the Tuscan hills.  

It has been a wonderful week.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Week 2 and 3 - Roma!

(NOTE - despite many efforts to enlarge all my shots on here, figuring out photos in blogger on an iPad is just beyond me.  And beyond Dino and Jake.  Some enlarge.  Some don't.  I give up.  Sorry for the small shots!!!)

12 days in Rome!
It was crowded - like, there are no words for the sheer numbers - beautiful,
insanely old, and so, SO hot.

We flew from Palermo to Rome on July 4th.  We are loving the carry on only decision with our luggage.  We have more than enough 2 of my t-shirts have never been worn...and it is so great to have each kid responsible for their own items.

We have seen some amazing things.
Here are a few favourites of mine.

The Pantheon was stunning. It made me cry.
As with everything I have loved, I wish there were a few thousand less people 
experiencing things along with me, but hey, that seems selfish.

St. Peter's Basilica was breathtaking.  
We saw the dome first, 

climbing many stairs up a teensy, and excessively hot staircase.

But the view of Michaelangelo's work was worth it.
I cried again.  The sheer beauty of this massive dome which 
was totally done to glorify God was overwhelming.

And the view from the outside was fantastic.

We had a guided tour of the Colesseum, Forum and Palatine Hill which was money well spent.  It was cheaper to do a private tour - big cheer for large families - so we had our guide all to ourselves.  She was lovely and gave us some great 
history and answered our questions and was lots of fun for the kids.

I was also a big fan of our day in the park with the segweys.  They are so much fun and the park was really lovely and had a lot of shade which I have grown to appreciate very much.

So much of the history here I find fascinating.  The kids...not so much...but for me, imagining a society that dreams up bath houses and then decorates them with such detail and forethought...well, it's hard not to feel like kindred spirits. 

The metro has been very convenient, yet terrifying during rush hour.  Cate and I spent one ride completely and utterly squished inside a big crowd.  
It was weird and awkward. 

I'm sorry to say that flea markets are not what I expected.  There's no cool vintage junk...just new, cheap crap that is pushed on you by crazy aggressive salesmen.

The traffic is crazy although less so than Palermo.  
There seem to be laws here and, you know, lanes. 
We've enjoyed all the cutie cars!

There is a garbage problem in Rome that is a bit perplexing when you take into account all the amazing things that have been invented and created here.  You'd think a bit of garbage wouldn't stump them so completely.
But this is a normal sight on the street.

We had a really lovely time meeting Dino's family.  We spent the afternoon with them at a gorgeous beach which was not crowded and it was also not boiling hot! 
Double bonus.

It's been great to just hang out.  Go with the flow.  See how other people live.

And have adventures.  
We don't really have timelines or agendas so when the google map says follow this trail to the Catacombs and the trail seems to lead through a farmers field...we can say, sure!

I've enjoyed watching this kid work out as we walk places.  He's always doing curls or squats or some sort of wacky exercise.

These two take great care of each other,

and these two have played together so nicely.

We've had some days of doing nothing at all except stare at our screens.  Big yay to Netflix but now we must say good-bye.  We are headed to a small village north of Florence tomorrow with no wifi.  Pray my kids suddenly become readers!!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week One - Palermo

This morning I woke to what I thought were music lessons...but turned out to be several hours worth of practice amongst some stringed instruments and an opera singer. 
Our own private concert right next door.  
Palermo is pretty cool.

It's hard to believe we're nearly done our first leg of this 8 week adventure.  
It seems like we just left and like we've been gone forever. 

 There are plenty of things I've spent my time pondering while we've been here.  How, for example, does anyone ever get enough sleep when they are up all night talking on the street?  How are there not deaths every 10 seconds when cars and motorcycles are flying down the streets willly nilly?  Why, in a country of 30 degree weather are there not more personal bubble issues? And if they are staying up all night talking, why aren't the cups of coffee bigger??  What do they have against toilet seats? And couldn't they get the same message across using an inside voice? 
Maybe not.

We have loved seeing all the unique produce and fish and meat in the markets and watching the  people on the beaches.  Public transport has been a new thing for the kids and something to get used to but they've been troopers.  I see my massive washer and amazing dryer in a whole new light.

Being a house kinda gal, the architecture and glimpse into how other people live has been completely fascinating to me.

Our hike up the mountain was an amazing experience...although terrifying.

It's a pretty great group I get to experience all this with!

Good-bye Sicily!! 

Next stop, Rome.