Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River

In May 2009 I went to Italy, my first completely independent trip to Europe. I did all the plans, figured out the itinerary, reserved hotels, arranged transportation, and pre-booked museum admissions. The only thing I didn’t plan on was a terrible heat wave, with temperatures well over 30° Centigrade. Even so, I have wonderful memories from the trip. What I don’t have is very good blog posts. It was the first trip I attempted to blog. In 2009 that meant finding internet cafes and such, so I blogged sporadically and didn’t write anything interesting.

I flew into Rome and took a bus to Siena, where I spent the first four nights. I had a rental car for two days while I was there, and I took two day trips. First I headed south to Montalcino, Pienza, and a few other towns in that area. The next day I went to Monteriggioni, Volterra, and San Gimignano.

Then I traveled by bus to Florence, where I spent three nights. In addition to visiting many museums and churches and seeing a lot of art, I took an excursion to nearby Fiesole.

From there, I went to Lucca and spent two nights there. I took a day trip to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana in a futile attempt to escape the heat.

Finally I went to the Cinque Terre. I stayed in Vernazza for two nights. I hiked between the towns and did a lot of people watching and eating. Then I took a train to Milan and spent the night at the airport before an early morning flight home.

Although I didn’t end up blogging effectively on the trip, I did take some great pictures.

Photo Albums


Siena (29 photos)
Montalcino, Pienza, and nearby towns (41 photos)
Monteriggioni, Volterra, and San Gimignano (44 photos)
Florence and Fiesole (51 photos)
Lucca (31 photos)
Castelnuovo di Garfagnana (20 photos)
Cinque Terre (59 photos)

Blog Posts


Giovedì (5/21/2009) - Sorry to all who have been waiting for my first report; I only today discovered that the hotel has internet access. And this keyboard types some bizarre (Italian) characters, so if I accidentally type some accents, forgivè me. So the first thing to report it that it has been terribly hot the whole time. Today more...
Venerdì (5/22/2009) - Sono in Firenze. Forget the throngs. (Take San Gimignano and multiple by 1000.) And I donàt know why there is a need for a hundred different booths on the street selling the exact same belts, scarves, and T-shirts. None of that matters. I was here 5 minutes, just walking to my hotel from the bus, more...
Domenica (5/24/2009) - One last post from Firenze. It remains hot and sunny, and I am glad to have the respite of my air conditioned B&B in a very convenient location. Iàve been to more things than I can remember. I have been writing down highlights in my journal, so Iàll be able to share details later. The more...
Lunedì in Lucca (5/25/2009) - No long post right now. Iàm in Lucca. Itàs lovely. And hot. And supposed to be hotter tomorrow, like 35°. So I am going to take a day trip by train up into the Alps, around Castelnuovo and Barga. Thereàs nothing like planning your vacation to try to avoid the hot summer months, only to more...
Martedì, settimana due (5/26/2009) - My train for Castelnuovo di Garfagnana leaves in about an hour, so Iàve been wandering around Lucca this morning, took a bike ride on the walls (itàs like the Lucchesi version of Greenlake), and popped into this Internet spot, where they charge ten cents a minute. In Firenze I got 30 minutes for a Euro. more...
Mercoledì in Vernazza (5/27/2009) - I can't begin to say what a thrill it was when the train came out of the tunnel into Riomaggiore, the first stop in the Cinque Terre, and I got my first glimpse of the sea. I arrived here in Vernazza about 12:30 this morning and I wish I'd spent my entire vacation here. It's more...
Monterosso al Mare (5/28/2009) - I wish I'd spent my entire two week vacation in the Cinque Terre. I just love it here! Yesterday at about 18.00 a thunderstorm rolled in off the mountains. I bought a bottle of wine and a hunk of foccacia and sat out on the balcony of my room, overlooking the water, under the canopy, more...
Back in Vernazza (5/28/2009) - OK, so just a postscript to my last post from Monterosso: Oh my friggin' god! The walk back from Monterosso to Vernazza was pure torture. Made the hike to Corniglia feel like a stroll on the walls around Lucca by comparison. Well, maybe it was because it was the end of the day and I more...