Rome -> Florence -> Tuscany -> Cinque Terre
We started our journey flying into Rome, riding into the city on the train, then taking the most harrowing taxi ride in my life to our hotel. After a bit of wandering around the cute small cobblestone streets we made our way to dinner where this charming woman was making fresh pasta for the restaurant.
The next day was our main sightseeing day starting with the Pantheon. The inscription translates to Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, made [this building] when consul for the third time.
Can't miss the Colloseum (or the lines) when you're there!
Altare della Patria was our next stop.
I stopped to set up my mini tripod and took 14 shots over a few minutes. You can then stack them to remove moving objects. As you can see there were some areas that had people in them for all frames but when I first saw it combined I loved the abstract painterly look that came out.
On top of the Altare there are some great views of the city and ancient ruins, as well as the statues on the rooftop.
We made our way over to the Trevi Fountain with the mandatory Gelato stop on the way. We only stayed for a minute with the million tourists swarming around it though.
Largo di Torre Argentina, where Julius Caesar was assassinated. Now it's a shelter for cats.
The next day we caught the train up to Florence and started exploring the famous Duomo and surrounding area.
There's a long and very narrow climb to the top that's 1000% worth it.
About to climb the second tall thing of the day: Giotto's bell tower. We ended up climbing something like 74 flights of stair that day. From the top of the tower there's more amazing views, but this time with the Duomo in them!
Next on the list is the Museo Galileo which has some of the most amazing globes, maps, and other scientific artifacts.
Map created by Fra' Mauro, a Camaldolese monk based on travel narratives such as Marco Polo's. The map is drawn upside down with Italy on the right side pointing up.
Galileo's Telescopes that he used to see the moons of Juipiter.
We then walked up the hill and many steps to the Piazzale Michelangelo to get the scenic vista of the city, but it was too overcast to get a good sunset picture.
After renting a car in Florence we started our drive around Tuscany and had our first lunch at this restaurant and farm Podere IL Casale.
We stayed our first Tuscan night in Montepulciano, a town known for its many wine cellars and caverns.
On the way out of Montepulciano we stopped by some natural hot springs that the Romans used
A wine tasting at Ciacci Piccolomini D'Aragona was next and the rain cleared right when we pulled up.
Most of the vineyards we stopped at also grew olives to make their own olive oil. We tasted theirs and it's the most lively, peppery, fresh oil you've ever tasted.
These barrels were full of water and bugs after the storm. We didn't sit for long.
The Abbey of Sant'Antimo was very close to the vinyard on the way back to the main road so we stopped for a look
We ended up in Montalcino for the night. While walking up and down the steep hills we found the town guardian.
I woke up early the next morning to go down to our hotel balcony and catch the sunrise. Unfortunately the sun only peaked out for a few seconds before the clouds swallowed it up, but the colors in the sky and mist over the low hills made it worth it
On the way out of town to Siena we stopped at another abbey: Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore
Once we made it to Siena we stopped for lunch then headed up the big hill to the Duomo di Siena. About half way up the hill the skies opened and it started raining so hard the streets were turning into rivers. We ducked inside a grocery store for cover for about 15 minutes till it started letting up. Not thirty seconds later it started coming down again just as hard. We rushed up the final bit to the Duomo and made it inside... just to be told we needed tickets and they were back across the plaza.
After a bit more exploring of Siena we headed out to our Winery/Bed and Breakfast Fattoria di Rignani for the night.
The next day we walked down the road to the Poggio Al Sole vineyard for a tour and tasting.
The quaint tiny town of Montefioralle with one ring road that takes about 5 minutes to walk around was another great stop that afternoon. This place seems like it's been frozen in time since the renaissance.
Back at the bed and breakfast we (at least Henri and I) enjoyed a very cold dip in the pool, then relaxed and drank a glass of wine to this amazing sunset view.
Back in Florence we stopped at the Museo Leonardo Da Vinci which had some interesting interactive exhibits like this octagonal mirror room
Luckily the weather was cooperating that day and we made our way back up the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo and I got the sunset pic I was really looking for
On the walk back to the hotel there were some pretty great views too. The first one is the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge with a whole market on it which is pretty much the jewelry row of Florence.
I had been getting a bit of a cold the day before and didn't get much sleep so it was hard to push through the all day tour of the Cinque Terre area but the views were incredible and I'm so glad we didn't miss any of it.
After that it was a bus ride back to Florence, a train to Rome, and then a flight home. Hope you enjoyed the pictures half as much as I did!