"Enchanted April" 2023
Birthday & Bon Voyage Zoom
Just like the movie title, April was enchanted! Don and I spent my birthday and much of the month, in Italy! We started celebrating the night before we departed... with these special faces on Zoom!
Our Family Zoom had one interruption. It was an explosive crash, made by our mirror, (9.5ft X 3.5ft) falling off the bathroom wall. Not a fun 3-hour clean up, but the memory is fun-ny now!
Birthday & Easter
The next day we were finally on our way, to enjoy the trip we cancelled during the pandemic. Our trip was scheduled to celebrate Easter and my birthday, in the sweet town of Soriano nel Cimino. First time my birthday landed on Easter, in my 66 years!
I celebrated one other birthday and an Easter, long ago in Italy. Those childhood celebrations were on different days, but I remember them fondly. Don and I toasted to my 2023 Birthday/Easter and to the beginning of our Italy adventure. I wore a mod paisley dress like I might have worn in 1969, when I turned 12 in Florence. I didn't have champagne back then, but I remember being bothered by the rum in my birthday cake!
We did a lot of toasting on our 18-day trip. I also did a lot of camera snapping, which means I've gone overboard with the photos.
Actually, these are all iPhone pics. We packed carryon only and left the old Nikon at home. Cheers to "gallery display" (above) which allows for more photos. Just click image to enlarge.
Places... Starting with Rome
We visited 7 cities/towns. Rome was the first. We arrived on Good Friday and did our best to ignore jet lag. The holidays brought crowds to Rome, but the Vatican area was fairly quiet at dusk.
Standing in St. Peter's Square brought back memories of my family's visit 55 years ago. We lucked out in 1969, with a sighting of Pope Paul VI, inside St. Peter's! No luck for Don and me on this trip, with less than 24 hours in the beautiful city!
Six More Stops
Italy's train system worked well, getting us to 6 other villages and cities. (click to enlarge)
The weather was mostly cool, with mostly blue skies! We were lucky!
We were also lucky with no mishaps or sprains, with all the stair climbing! We knew we'd be climbing lots of hills, especially in the Cinque Terre villages. But we hadn't realized just how many indoor and outdoor staircases we'd be climbing in all the locations.
All the step climbing usually rewarded us with incredible views. The photo above was taken after climbing a spiral staircase inside Vernazza's Doria Castle. A 360 degree view of the sea, village, harbor, terraced hills and distant mountains!
The pics below are just some of my ridiculous collection of stair photos.
When I was a child living in Italy for a short time, I recorded (in a small notebook) the number of steps I climbed in domes and towers. I no longer count steps, but I'm clearly still obsessed with them!
Sometimes all the climbing made us thirsty.
Wine, cappuccino and Aperol Spritzes! We had a lot of those beverages!
And we burned enough calories to make up for all the pasta and bread and gelato!
I lack photos of important foods. Where's the spaghetti and focaccia and lasagna?
Sometimes we enjoyed food, on the go.
Food always tastes better in the fresh air, especially when you're famished from all the walking!
My favorite part of the whole trip was wandering, either early in the morning or off the beaten path.
I'm shown hiking above Vernazza and Don is exploring the overgrown gardens of Palazzo Chigi Albani, in Soriano.
Below are some of my favorite places and fun discoveries.
Even in the most touristy places, we could always find quiet places and views.
People Watching and Meeting
I enjoyed our tourist-free wandering, but I didn't mind the people watching at busier times. Most of the other travelers seemed to be Italian. I loved observing the locals and hearing the Italian language!
Sometimes I just spotted people doing things that made me smile.
We also met some wonderful people. We had some amazing hotel hosts and delightful wait staff. We enjoyed chatting with other travelers now and then. In our Soriano hotel, we befriended a couple from England and ended up joining them for dinner.
Besides people watching, we had some good animal spotting. We saw some sweet kitties here and there. I remember when I was a kid, worrying about the Colosseum Cats, that swarmed the ruins in Rome. The cats we saw all seemed healthy!
While wandering early, in Lucca and Riomaggiore, I had some nice animal surprises, with this horse and seagull.
I took more photos of churches than probably anything else on our Italy trip.
This tiny Gothic beauty, (Santa Maria della Spina) was far from the Leaning Tower crowds, in Pisa. It was sitting between the Arno River and a street, like a miniature cathedral! I wish I could have gone inside.
Exteriors & Interiors
In each city/town, we visited churches.
(click for info)
You didn't need to know the history, (or anything about religion or architecture) to appreciate the flavor of each!
Castles and Palaces
Besides churches, we wandered through a number of castles and palaces.
In most of these, we were the only visitors, which made it easier to imagine living in these amazing structures!
Morning was my favorite time of day. It was quieter and I had more energy.
But as I look back on these photos, I think evening/night was the loveliest!
So we're back home now and April is over. We need to get back to reality, like replacing the demolished mirror. But, I can't get the trip out of my head.
Our Italy trip introduced Don and me to a lot of new places, We finally experienced Cinque Terre! But the trip was also a nostalgic one for me. I spent a lot of time remembering what Italy was like, 55 years ago when I first laid eyes on tile roofs and cobblestone. I've aged a lot, but I'm glad Italy is still so much the way I remember it!
I'm so grateful that Don was enthused about visiting some of my favorite places, from childhood. Going down in Orvieto's well and visiting the 16th century Park of the Monsters was as dreamlike and magical as I remembered.
Climbing is no longer allowed, but Don and I set the camera timer, for a pose with the Giant Mouth!
Best of all, we explored new places together. I took about 2,000 photos and at least I have a handful of the 2 of us together...
... only one of which is a selfie, taken from our hotel in Vernazza!
I'm so thankful we pulled this trip off without health issues or pandemics getting in the way. We came back happy and healthy and so appreciative that our knees and backs cooperated!
Ciao for Now!