Verona in a Day


Before fall officially arrives and the grapes come calling, we decided to take another day trip; this time to Verona.

While it’s only three hours away by train, train times are not great, which meant we left the house at 6:30am for the 7am train.

Ouch.

It hurt even more when our train to Venice broke down in a small town called Casarsa and we sat on the tracks for 30 minutes before the Carabinieri ushered us off, where we waited on the platform for another 15 minutes for another train. We had dressed for sunny-but-crisp fall weather, under the promise of mid-70s in Verona. Sadly, Casarsa (and the rest of northern Italy) didn’t seem to get the memo that it was supposed to be sunny. The rains started as we chugged along in the new train to Venice and when we got off, we thought long and hard about continuing on to Verona. We’d missed our connection at this point and the next train wasn’t for another 90 minutes, but we concluded that we’d already made it two-thirds of the way there and we might as well press on.

We arrived in the Verona station at noon and the rains had followed us. Our weather apps promised clearing in the afternoon, so we hopped a bus and trudged through town, looking for a place for lunch/refuge. With soggy shoes and socks (and a newly purchased sweater), I was in need of a bit more convincing to stay and Dave knows the best way to do that is with food.

We found a cute little corner osteria and our lunch was perfect, rainy-day comfort food, Italian-style. Dave with his roasted chicken and I with my (Italian) mac-and-cheese. The rains had turned to downpour at this point, so we lingered over the dessert menu, until finally, the skies let up over our chocolate torta.

I’m so, so glad they did.

Verona ended up being a beautifully vibrant city with plenty of activity while maintaining a historical feel. We loved it. Post-lunch, we ventured over to Casa di Giulietta of Romeo & Juliet fame. Through a small entryway covered in “love letters” pasted on the wall with band-aids (interesting choice), was a tiny little courtyard with the famous balcony and a statue of Juliet standing in front of a large gate with love locks attached.

We snapped our photos as the humidity rose and found our way to Giardino Giusti, which is where we spent a huge amount of time, taking in the manicured gardens, dodging snails that crept out after the rains and finding our way through the winding paths that led up to the Belvedere, or the tower-balcony over looking the gardens.

As we toured around the city, we snapped photos of the Ponte Pietra, the pedestrian bridge leading back to the center of town, ducked in the shops along Via Mazzini, before finally stopping for an aperitivo near the arena.

Verona was exactly what I think of when I think Italian city— a historic city center full of life, buildings painted in rich colors, many with extra pops of bright colors from their flower boxes outside the windows, endless choices for mom-and-pop style restaurants and bars…the whole city was walkable with so much activity that you don’t realize how far you’ve actually been in a day. A quintessential Italian city. Verona actually reminded me a lot of Florence, if Florence didn’t have the heavy Renaissance slant.

Our train departed at 7pm and we didn’t get back to Udine until 10:30pm, making for a very long day, but Verona, you were most certainly worth it.

(click any image to enlarge)



Day-trippin’ to Gorizia


When we mention to anyone that Dave is studying in Italy, most times, it conjures up images of reading a textbook from a balcony overlooking the Tuscan countryside, or squeezing in gondola rides between exams or some other romantic notion of Italy. Don’t get me wrong, I wish it could be like that. Alas, we ended up in Udine, certainly one of the, um, lesser-known Italian cities. We are WAY far north, and so far east, that if we were to rent a car, we’d almost be obligated to check the box that says we might travel into Eastern Europe.

Okay, it’s not that bad, but you get the idea. My point is that Udine is a tricky town, transportation-wise. It makes taking day trips on the weekend (the most we can indulge with Dave’s vineyard research schedule) a bit of a challenge.

We’ve always tried to make the most of our time in Europe, especially now that it’s coming to an end. In France, our town of Montpellier was somewhat of a hub and it made traveling to nearby cities for the day a breeze. In Udine, we have to spend at least two hours getting to Venice (more of a hub) before we can get anywhere. We’ve found that it’s not very conducive to day trips to the more touristy spots, so we’ve looked into some of the smaller, “off the beaten path” places to visit.

Last weekend, we hopped a 20-minute train to the border town of Gorizia. It neighbors Slovenia, which is another EU country that we hope to explore before heading back to the States. But Saturday was all about Gorizia.

It was the day after Ferragosto and when I woke up that morning, I read a tweet, which I thought was humorous: Due passi per Milano il 16 di Agosto e mi sentivo accompagnato dalla musica di Walking Dead. Essentially, this woman took a few steps outside in Milan and it was so silent that she felt like it must have been the zombie apocalypse.

That’s the day after Ferragosto. The day we decided to visit Gorizia.

To say it was quiet would be an understatement.

Everything was shuttered, per ferie, but there was a castle. So there’s that. And it gave me a chance to practice some photography. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to see more of the historic museums and memorials, as Gorizia was a front-line city in World War I. So much history in this country! I’d better do more homework on places to visit before we leave in November!



August in Italy


It’s already mid-August here in Italy and so incredibly quiet around town. August is vacation month in Italy— everyone takes time off and stores are closed per ferie, or, for summer holiday. It’s not uncommon for most stores (of the mom-and-pop variety, which still make up the majority of the neighborhood) to shut down for the last two weeks of August. It usually starts on or around August 15, which is Ferragosto here. If you’re religious, it’s a day commemorating the Assumption of Mary, or for everyone else, it’s the celebration of the festival of Emperor Augustus. Either way, Italy shuts down and most businesses use it as the start of a minimum two-week vacation.

As I understand it, most Italians head to the beach, or possibly the mountains, if they live near us (Udine being very close to the Dolomites). To that end, it’s like a ghost-town here…even more than usual. To make matters worse, the weather seems to have changed already. It’s still rainy, but now there is a feeling of fall in the air. On drier evenings, there is a crispness resembling early autumn.

I personally feel a bit gypped, as summer is my favorite time of year. I love hot weather. The fact that it’s mid-August and already feeling like fall? That’s just a rip-off. I already have soup on the menu for dinner this week! Ugh.

Towards the end of July, we spent ten days in Cavo, on the island of Elba. The island is off the coast of Tuscany, and most for most days of our trip, it was sunny there, so we spent our time at the beach. Now, what little tan I had has already faded. Grrrr.

To try and stave off the feeling of fall, here’s a look at some of the (sunnier) photos from Elba. I, for one, will be gazing longingly at them while I eat my soup.



A vacation with bubbles


We’re back in Udine (it’s obvious we’re no longer in Tuscany on account of all the rain and thunderstorms here) and getting back into the swing of things after our mini vacation. Our getaway included lots of lazy afternoons on the beaches of Elba, some practicing of my photography and even a bit of work. The Tuscan air proved inspirational, as I got some client branding designed, and even launched a website from my phone.

While I’m still going through the photos from the trip, you can snag a sneak peak on Instagram…which brings me back to that new website that launched. It was for an Italian prosecco (available in the States) and part of the gig is Instagramming life in Italy. Check it out—maybe even over a glass of bubbles! Lady La Femme



Change of Scenery


Taking this party to the beaches of Isola d’Elba, off the coast of Tuscany…because sometimes you just need to change it up.

Cavo, Isola d'Elba, Tuscany, Italy

because sometimes you just need to change it up