Posted by: 2 Travelers | May 18, 2013

Mountains!

In less than 1 1/2 hours we were in the beautiful green mountains of Friuli. We thought we would stop somewhere to kill a little time before checking into the hotel apartment in Tolmezzo….we absolutely hit the jackpot! Venzone. This is the gate where we entered.

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This is the main piazza of this small walled city complete with a moat (OK, no water….but…still a moat)

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This is the church….under the baptistry there are 5 mummies that remain of the original 21 that were discovered many years ago. They were preserved by a bacteria found here that preserved the bodies. They had been kept in coffins in the church, but after a horrible earthquake in1976, only 5 could be recovered from the rubble. We did not venture in to see those guys…..the church was beautiful.

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We found a little trattoria for lunch. We were the only ones eating inside….the hearty Germans and Austrians ate outside. ( we are very close to Austria)

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I had the risotto with wild asparagus and Larry had homemade tagliatelle with ragu….we shared the salad and there were 4 kinds of bread! When we left, we were given a gift of pumpkin marmalade…just had some with out snack supper and it was delicious with the local goat cheese, pear, local prociutto and our bargain bottle of Brunello di Montalcino.

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Venzone is a big area for lavender….I am inhaling deeply in one of the 3 lavender shops in town.

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Here is a shot of where we are staying for the next 4 nights….the town backs right up to the bottom of a mountain. Lovely place.

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Posted by: 2 Travelers | May 17, 2013

Trieste & Muggia

These photos give you the idea of the last 2 days….

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Yep, rain…..yesterday we spent the day in Trieste (after a wild bus ride straight downhill!) where it rained all morning. But we still went to all the places our B&B owner, Fluvia, told us to see….however, sketching was not possible.

This city was part of the Hapsburg empire so there is a heavy influence from Austria. Fluvia told us to go to the famous cafe where writers and intellectuals used to gather….it was like being in Salzburg or Vienna….and so we HAD to have some apple strudel with our cafe.

20130517-111720.jpgThis was at 11….. dessert before lunch. As my Austrian friend, Erika, says, “in Austria you do not eat because you are hungry, but because it is good!” So we did!
We followed up with lunch at a seafood restaurant where Fluvia and her family go; she said it is just locals, and it was us and a bunch of business folks and some other retirees. No hint from the outside of what was inside.

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Today we took the same bus to the city, walked to the boat stop and went to Muggia, a small town less than a mile from Slovenia….we loved it! Much more our speed instead of the city. It did not rain until we went to lunch, so got some sketching done. Here are a few shots of Muggia.

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….and lunch in this little place was wonderful….

20130517-113452.jpgtoday I had the grilled calamari….2 really big guys and Larry had the fried calamari.

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This is the little boat that goes between Trieste and Muggia….and we got rained on walking back to the bus stop…about a 15 minute walk.

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Tomorrow we head to the big mountains, so goodbye seafood….but the weather is to be better.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | May 15, 2013

Duino Castle

Another beautiful day…..next 2 days may be quite rainy, so we have umbrellas and rain jackets handy for 2 days in Trieste. We are staying in a small town up the hill from the city and will ride the bus to the center as the old tram is undergoing renovation….it is from 1902, so I suppose it could need some work.

We spent most of the day in Duino, site of a fantastic castle. We spent time sketching the old castle from the wall of the new castle. We toured the new castle….opulent does not begin to describe it. Very impressive was the family tree….dating back to 1095! The old castle was built in the 11th century and the new one in the 16th….with more recent additions. Under the castle was a German bunker from WWII, which we also walked down (and up!) 90 some steps to where the exit was near the sea.

Old and new….

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This is the entrance to the new one.

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We have been anxious for some great sea food, but have not seen it on the menus even though we were not that far from the sea…..but NOW we are on the coast and we found a great place for lunch near the castle. This was before everyone showed up….

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Larry had grilled calamari that was wonderful.

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I asked the waiter how many mussels were in the appetizer order, 10? He said no, maybe 20. So that is what I ordered for my lunch….

20130515-105753.jpgSeriously!!!!We counted over 40!!!! and Larry helped me finish them. I knew they were fresh as we could see where they are raised right in front of the restaurant.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | May 14, 2013

Beautiful Spot!

Today we drove 18 miles north toward the mountains and found this beautiful little town, Cividale.

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There were higher, snow capped mountains in the background, but they do not show in the photos. Luckily for us, we parked at the first available spot…..some of the streets were pretty narrow.

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Another good lunch….linguine with pesto for me, and Larry had gnocchi with butter, sage and smoked ricotta. Both were delicious!

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The weather was perfect today; about 70, full sun….and great sketching.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | May 13, 2013

Friuli…the most NE province

20130513-114934.jpgToday we entered Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Region of Italy. It is the most north eastern region and the least visited. We are staying in the town of Palmanova….it is an old fortress….a 9 pointed star fortress. Here you can see an aerial photo: Palmanova

We entered town through this gate.See the truck barely fitting?

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The center of the star has a huge piazza and our hotel is right next to the Duomo…..when the bells ring…..it is LOUD!

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While we were sitting in the piazza I had to photograph these shoes. Then I decided there should be a caption…The other lady is saying,” My Goodness!!! How can you walk?” The man is saying, “What are you thinking???”

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OK, foodies…..today we ate lunch in a very small town just south of Palmanova and I had a plate of spaghetti….I ate like an Italian….they always put their napkin in bib position…so do we! Even with that I got 3 oil spots on my shirt. Good thing we bring oil removing spray with us!

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Larry had penne with the famous San Daniele prosciutto….supposed to be the best, but, shhhh, do not tell people in Parma…

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Posted by: 2 Travelers | May 12, 2013

Padua

Beautiful day with perfect temperature of 68. We took the train from Ferrara to Padua near Venice. We had been told that if it weren’t for Venice, Padua would be the star of the Veneto. Yes there are canals and beautiful architecture, but…..it is not Venice. Here are a few shots:

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EVERYONE was out in one piazza or another this morning.

20130512-121207.jpgWe found a small place for lunch and luckily sat down earlier than usual……the place filled up within a few minutes. Larry thought he’d have some meat….and he did! Osso Bucco….I had the soup of Orzo with asparagus and pancetta. Both very good!

20130512-121505.jpgAfter lunch we walked to this unique park; Prato della Valle. It is the largest square in Italy. There are 88 statues all the way around the outside and the inside of the water. Larry gets so tied in knots when things are “wrapped up” for repairs, and the first ones we saw were wrapped! Only 5 were wrapped up so plenty “unwrapped” and he was OK.

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There was a lot of music in the streets today.

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ALL of them were very good! The singer was very dramatic, the pianist excellent, and the band had a huge crowd watching them and a TV camera man filming them. It was a very nice day; the train back to Ferrara had started in Venice (only 15 minutes past Padua!) was heading to Bologna and was PACKED. After such a beautiful day, we are now having a thunderstorm! Then to clear up for tomorrow. Got to be flexible, carry sunglasses and a umbrella in Northern Italy.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | May 11, 2013

Into the Veneto Region

20130511-112324.jpgHere is where we are staying for a few nights….just on the north side of the Po river in the Veneto region. This is a lovely country house, only 6 rooms, with a splendid restaurant….We had lunch here yesterday when we arrived…..chicken breast in a creamy asparagus sauce. The salad you see is one half of an order…..we shared that one order!

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Today we visited the city of Ferrara…other side of the Po, so part of Emilia-Romagna region. We had clouds in the morning, a 10 minute cloud burst about 1 pm, and sun the rest of the day. Ferrara is the birth place of Savanarola….I found his statue very scary.

20130511-113227.jpgThe castle here is undoubtedly the biggest we have ever seen. Huge moat around it and drawbridges.

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Then there is the Cathedral…..

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20130511-113646.jpgThis little outcropping along the side is unique….various colors of stucco with stores underneath the portico.

Bicycles are the main means of transportation in Ferrara. We saw lots of grandmas riding along with their shopping bags, wearing skirts and blazers, dodging all the pedestrians. That is Larry in the tan cap.

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A famous “street” of town is the Via delle Volte; the merchants homes were on one side and their warehouses on the other and they were connected by passages above the street.

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We had lunch in an osteria on this street…my pasta was heavy round noodles with heavy cream, ham and peas. Larry had the little hats stuffed with Hubbard squash in butter with orange zest. Yummy and we will need nothing tonight!

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Tomorrow we take the train to Padua (Padova in Italian) for the day.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | May 10, 2013

Pennabilli & San Leo

Thursday was a beautiful sunny day. We made a gorgeous drive through th green hills of Northern Marche. Our first stop was in Pannabilli. There used to be 2 towns, Penna and Billi. They were on 2 rocks, but finally merged at the low point between.This photo was made as we descended into the village.

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We parked in the center and walked up to the point on the left where we found this surprise.

20130510-102839.jpgYep, Tibetan prayer wheels and a bell. There were old prayer flags on the fence too. The story is that a monk from here, in the 18th century went to Tibet (how he got there and how long it took one wonders!) and he translated 32,000 words and brought them back here so the people would understand another culture. He was the first westerner to translate the Tibetan language. Then in 2005 the Dali Lama came to this tiny place! Neat story.

We drove on to our one night stop in San Leo. It is a hilltop (that is an understatement!) village with a huge fortress on top. The duomo has the remains of San Leo. We battled past many bikers on the winding narrow road with no shoulders (eek!) and as we drove through the little gate were surprised to find the street packed with a bus load of tourists walking up. The busses have to park way down the hill. This was the final part of the road and the gate.

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20130510-103655.jpgAnd of course there was ONE pinch point and there were 2 cars coming out….we squeaked by with an inch or two on each side. An hour later everyone was gone…all the bikers, all the bus people and it was a beautiful afternoon….lots of sketching.

20130510-103925.jpgOur hotel is where the white umbrellas are.

This is the fortress and its position.

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We had a wonderful lunch of rabbit with some kind of stuffing and delicious fries….we were very hungry and when half done realized we had not made a photo….but it was really good! Today we arrived near Ferrara where we will spend tomorrow and Sunday in Padua.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | May 8, 2013

Again!!!

20130508-104036.jpgWe did it again!!! Monday we drove through the town of Cagli….knew nothing about it, but what we did see warranted a day long visit. But, since it was market day, we could see nothing of the wonderful architecture due to vendors everywhere. So, we walked over the bridge, had a coffee, crossed back, looked for empty streets, decided to have an early lunch so that by 1:30, they would be gone…..and they were….except for the straggler.

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Lunch was wonderful; started with mixed crostini (tomato & basil, artichoke and cheese, sausage with cheese and sage. Then the pasta; I had delicious cannelloni stuffed with beef and Larry had a huge pile of tagliatelle with tomato. Lovely little place too….seats 19.

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20130508-104835.jpgHere are a few photos of the town and from the bridge….the mountains could not be any greener!

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It was wonderful to see the sun come out this afternoon. Below is the view of the hills around Urbino from our room.

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Tomorrow we leave here for San Leo….a castle perched on top of a rock. We will be there only one night as we will be there early enough to see it all in one afternoon.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | May 7, 2013

Catch up time

Time to catch up….I had a post ready except for proofing last night….this morning it was nowhere to be found. It must be wandering around in cyber space somewhere. So, briefly, here is what I had covered:
Saturday we visited a monastery that our hosts wanted us to see. It is buried way back in the mountains and is huge. It was thundering all around us and as we left it started raining, so the photo is not as nice as we would have liked.

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Sunday we spent the day in Fabriano….yes watercolor people, as in the famous paper. We took the 1.5 hr tour and it was most interesting to see the beater they had used in the past….all made of wood with nails to break down the cotton rags. Unfortunately, they did not allow photos. This is a photo of the main piazza in Fabriano….lunch time, drizzle, and empty.

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Monday we left Sassoferrato for Urbino stopping in a few small villages. It was drizzly, so just snapped a few photos of the town of Pergola which had a lot of interesting old buildings.

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We arrived at our hotel at the edge of Urbino and took the little bus to the center….DO NOT drive to the center! We were here 7 or 8 years ago and know better. The town was packed with groups of loud students on field trips….

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Ah, but today we drove into the mountains to visit a small place, Sasocovara…..AND we even had some sunshine! We were able to sketch, had a fabulous lunch, drove back another way…very nice day.

20130507-095626.jpgWe ate at this little place. It is the little door on the bottom of the building to the left of the flower pot….but everyone knows about it. It seats about 26 people and was mostly full while we were there and more were coming in as we left.

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20130507-095943.jpgThis is the local pasta made from old bread, eggs and cheese then put through a press to get the shape. It is a hearty pasta. This is mixed with cherry tomatoes, arugula and mozzarella…..just delicious! Larry had penne with ragu. Here is a photo I managed to get of the inside….this is all of the tables.

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We stopped at 2 other little places on our way back….we only drove a total of 36 miles…..but on tiny, winding, bumpy roads, it took a lot of time.

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