Wednesday, October 27, 2010


After spending last night on the Italian Riviera near Portofino (incredibly beautiful place), we arrived in Florence after a 2 1/2 hour drive across Tuscany. Then the fun really began! Trying to find your way around Florence is a tourist's nightmare. The directions we had for our B & B led us around and around in circles. Have you ever seen the scene from the Simpson's where they get stuck in a round about in London and can't get out? That was us today. And Karen had read in her Rick Steve's guidebook that you can't drive into the city center or you'll get fined. So she was really afraid that we would make a wrong turn.

We finally stumbled upon the Piazza del Liberte, which we knew was near our hotel, and Rose and Lora parked our cars in residential parking spaces and Karen and I walked to find our B & B. Luckily, the owner was there to let us in. She told us we could drop off our bags and then drive to the airport to drop our cars and take a taxi back to the city. So that's what we did. We had a few more stressful moments making our way to the airport, but we finally got back to the city and had the taxi drop us at the San Lorenzo Market for some shopping. It was only about a 10 minute walk from there back to our B & B.

Our B & B is very nice. The rooms are large and roomy and the internet is free. Yesterday in the Italian Riviera, the internet was 6 euros for 30 minutes, so we skipped it.

Our B & B host told us where to find a good restaurant for dinner. Lora and I had a delicious pumpkin and mushroom soup and Karen had a wonderful lasagna. The rest of the food was so-so, and the service was not so great.

Tomorrow we have a tour of the Uffizi and the Acadamia Museums. We also hope to fit in the Duomo, the Boboli Gardens, and the Ponta Vecchio Bridge. Three of the four of us have flights that leave around 7 am on Friday, so we'll have to fit everything we can in tomorrow.

I'll have to write later about our time in Bellagio on Lake Como. Loading pictures is a very slow process, but we have some stunning pictures I hope to load tomorrow. The Lake Como area is amazingly beautiful. The lake, the colorful villas, the majestic snow covered Alps all take your breath away.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Karen and Rose Did in Rome and Amalfi Coast

Driver PierPaulo and Rose on the Amalfi Coast
Driver Aldo and the girls

Greetings to friends and family! Rose and I travelled from Roma to Pompeii which was truley amazing when you see indoor pipes from 79 AD.

Then our wonderful drivers took us to Posiatano for an amazing hotel upgrade with a magnificant view of the Amalfi Coast. AFter a true Italian dinner on the top of the mountain we crashed after way too long with no sleep.

The next day we travelled with our driver down the coast. Thank God for the driver. We could never have driven it ourselves. The views were spectacular and the lemon cello very good.

Then on to Sorrento for an overnight. The next day we took a jet boat to Capri. Of course it had to rain! It was still fun eventhough we felt like wet dogs. A beautiful but pricey place. I'll return when I meet the Billionaire! Another night in Sorrento then off to Rome!

Now we were on our own in Rome with no one to make sure we were where we were sapposed to be.... but managed to find our way around. First afternoon we saw the Colliseum, Roman Forum, Pantheum, tomb of the unknown soldier often called the Wedding cake, spanish steps and Trevi fountain. Then we ate again at a "place famous poeple eat". Tired feet at the end of that day! waist on the pants getting tighter!

The next day we visited the vatican! Awesome! The museum, the sistine chapel, the crypt with the Popes, St Peters Bascilica. We walked 5 miles just around the Vatican that day. Then another experience besides the metro and the Buses in Rome, a rental car! Only got lost once trying to exit Roma for Umbria. Thank God Rose was driving! We found our way north to the villa we are currently in for our cooking class. Christine actually had to come get us after getting sooooo lost. Yesterday went to the Chocolate festival in Perugia too many people! Like the Cherry Festival in Michigan!
Karen and Rose

Pictures from Day One of Cooking School

First Day of Cooking

Our first day of cooking lessons. We made a chicken liver pate, ravioli, pork roast with mushrooms, carrots, and raisins, and tirimisu. Rolling out the dough for the ravioli was a riot. Rose, Karen and I failed miserably, so our chefs used our dough to make spaghetti. Lora's was the only dough fit for ravioli, so we all learned to take the round circles of flattened dough and fill them with the ricotta and gorgonzolla cheeses and a basil leaf, fold them over and seal them.

It was all surprisingly simple to make (except for rolling the dough), with simple and fresh ingredients. And the best part was eating it all. It ended up being about seven courses all together, and we were very pleased with our results. We have our dinners with the whole family -- Cristina, her sister Patrizia, Patrizia's husband Pietro, and their daughter Guilia, and Mama. They are all such wonderful and fun people and the best hosts you could ever hope to find.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mo & Lora in Tuscany

Ou Pottery in San Gimingnano

Mo and Lora in Tuscany

Trying to Catch Up

Our farmhouse B & B in San Gimingnano

San Gimingnano

Lora and I drove the Cinque Terra on our way to meeting Rose and Karen in Umbria.

San Gimingamo

More Pictures

Karen getting a head start on the vino

Finally got some internet access this morning. Service is really sporadic in Tuscany/Umbria, it seems. So I'll post some pics while I have a chance. We're off to the market and the Chocolate Festival (perfect timing for me!), this is the final weekend of this yearly celebration.

This is our villa in Umbria