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.

Freshly made pasta for our first dinner in Rome.

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.

  1. Pantheon
  1. Expresso stop right outside the Pantheon
  2. One of the tops of an arch outside the Colloseum

Can't miss the Colloseum (or the lines) when you're there!

  1. Colloseum
  1. We saw a book showing how they used to fill it with water and have sea battles!
  1. Ruins of the Forums
  2. Looking back from an overlook in the forums

Altare della Patria was our next stop.

  1. Altare della Patria

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.

  1. The top of the Altare della Patria
  1. Count the arches
  1. The top of the Pantheon pops out over the city
  2. Hazy day over Rome
  1. Chelsea found this shot on top of the Altare della Patria
  1. Guardians of the Sky

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.

  1. Trevi Fountain. Not pictured: a million people

Lindsey found this awesome brewery bar close to our hotel

Largo di Torre Argentina, where Julius Caesar was assassinated. Now it's a shelter for cats.

  1. Largo di Torre Argentina


The next day we caught the train up to Florence and started exploring the famous Duomo and surrounding area.

  1. Carvings on the Duomo in Florence

There's a long and very narrow climb to the top that's 1000% worth it.

  1. Giotto's bell tower from the long climb up the Duomo
  1. Admiring the great views

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!

  1. Great views of the Duomo from the bell tower just peeking my lens through a wire cage

Next on the list is the Museo Galileo which has some of the most amazing globes, maps, and other scientific artifacts.

  1. Armillary sphere made by Antonio Santucci from inside the Museo Galileo
  1. All of the globes had incredible details
  1. Countless hours must have gone into making these

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.

  1. Fra' Mauro's Map
  1. Closeup detail of the map

Galileo's Telescopes that he used to see the moons of Juipiter.

  1. Galileo's Telescopes

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.

  1. David in Piazzale Michelangelo


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.

  1. View from Podere IL Casale.
  1. Henri was the cat whisperer on this trip
  2. Mosaics around the farm as well
  1. There's a beautiful view everywhere you look
  1. And many peacocks roaming around!

We stayed our first Tuscan night in Montepulciano, a town known for its many wine cellars and caverns.

Wine in the cellar

  1. Montepulciano views
  1. Where all the people who didn't like the wine meet their end
  1. Wonderful field on the way out of Montepulciano

On the way out of Montepulciano we stopped by some natural hot springs that the Romans used

  1. Hot Springs of yore

A wine tasting at Ciacci Piccolomini D'Aragona was next and the rain cleared right when we pulled up.

The view from Ciacci Piccolomini D'Aragona

  1. The vines of Ciacci Piccolomini D'Aragona

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.

  1. Budding olives

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

  1. This olive tree by itself in the field at the Abbey caught my eye

We ended up in Montalcino for the night. While walking up and down the steep hills we found the town guardian.

  1. Guardian of Montalcino

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

  1. Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore
  1. Water storage for Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore
  2. Someone a long time before me thought to paint the same view
  1. Ancient tomes inside

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.

  1. Duomo di Siena.
  1. Inside is incredible and much more intricately detailed than the Duomo in Florence
  1. Looking straight up the Duomo
  1. Stone carving skills > 9000
  2. Duomo di Siena

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.

  1. I love the rugged textures and colors of the lichen that grows on the roof tiles everywhere
  2. Grape buds at Poggio Al Sole

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.

  1.  Montefioralle

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.

  1. Sunset at our Winery/Bed and Breakfast Fattoria di Rignani.


Back in Florence we stopped at the Museo Leonardo Da Vinci which had some interesting interactive exhibits like this octagonal mirror room

  1. No caption needed

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

  1. Sunset over Florence

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.

  1. The famous Ponte Vecchio
  1. Sometimes the best light happens after sunset

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.

  1. On the boat ride between towns
  1. Coming into port, or just getting close enough to drop people off.

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!

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