A Travellerspoint blog

Day 4 - Lucca and we arrive at the Villa in Tuscany!

Lucca and La Poggiolaia Villa

After a nice leisurely breakfast we said goodbye to our B&B and lovely Lake Como and headed south towards Tuscany and the walled town of Lucca.

Lucca is an ancient walled city that as the town grew the town kept the walls intact even after they lost their military importance of protecting the city. It was a quaint city with beautiful churches, small shop lined streets and at the center of the street is a beautiful round square built on a Roman Amphitheatre.

After our tour of Lucca we headed to our home base the next 5 days, the beautiful La Poggiolaia Villa near the town of Certaldo in the heart of the Tuscany region.


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Day 2 & 3 - Lake Como!

Mennagio, Bellagio and Lake Como

After meeting the rest of our group in the Milan airport we took a short hour and a half van ride up to Lake Como in the northern part of Italy to stay at a beautiful bed and breakfast hotel called Alberghetto la MariAnna. For 2 days we toured the small villages of Menaggio and Bellagio on Lake Como and even took a short day trip across the border into Switzerland. The rented van would become our mode of transportation over the next 10 days as we used it daily for trips and return transportation back to our home base of either the hotel or the villa in Tuscany.

To reach Bellagio we took a short ride across the lake by ferry and did some shopping and of course enjoyed our first taste of Italian Gelato! Something we would sample in every city we visited and boy was it good!

I can't begin to describe how relaxing it was walking through the small villages along Lake Como or driving around the lake. It was so cool to see the snow covered peaks of the Alps in the distance and the colorful houses/mansions along the Lake.


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Day 1: Milan!

Duomo Cathedral and The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Well after a long flight we stored our luggage in the airport in Milan and took a train to the end of the line and caught a tram to our hotel, the Park Hyatt Milan. It was a very nice hotel located adjacent to The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is one of the world's oldest shopping malls. The Duomo Cathedral is right next to the Galleria and was absolutely magnificent!

The Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the 5th-largest church in the world and the largest in Italy.


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One day to go!!

We've checked in for our flights and finished packing, now we're just enjoying one final relaxing evening with the kids before the big day!


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Bed and Breakfast we'll be staying at in Lake Como!

View Chris & Soni Italy trip 2016 on ChrisandSoni's travel map.



Posted by ChrisandSoni 08:52 Archived in Italy Tagged lake bellagio b&b como Comments (0)

Less than 2 weeks to go!

Well we've started packing in ernest! We're trying to pack everything we could possibly need and prepare for our trip of a lifetime.

Can't wait to see Cinque Terre and the other sites of Italy.


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Planning and packing!

Duomo Cathedral

We've started planning and packing for our upcoming trip to Italy. We've started buying the little things we'll need and a friend was kind enough to give us three "Wine Diapers" to bring back bottles of wine from our trip.

Time is flying by! Here's a picture of the Duomo Cathedral which we'll be visiting Wednesday when we arrive in Milan.


Posted by ChrisandSoni 08:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Visit Florence American Cemetery on April 9th

View Chris & Soni Italy trip 2016 on ChrisandSoni's travel map.

On Saturday, the 9th of April we will be driving from Lake Como to our home for the week, the La Poggiolaia Villa/Apartment complex at Fiano. About an hour from the Villa, we will stop by the Florence American Cemetery. This site was used for the burial of American troops killed after the liberation of Rome (Sicily to Rome site is a Neptuna, just south of Rome in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery).

You can check out some beautiful footage of the cemetery below.

Posted by ChrisandSoni 07:39 Archived in Italy Tagged cemetery florence chris american soni kiran Comments (0)

Getting ready for our 25th Wedding Anniversary

Planning, planning, planning!

View Chris & Soni Italy trip 2016 on ChrisandSoni's travel map.

Well the big day is rapidly approaching, less than 2 months to go!

Our friend and guide has been kind enough to provide us a list of what we need to take on our trip:

European Travel Tips

Common Costs. Common costs are those items that we have to pay for on a day to day basis that are common to everyone. Examples are gas/diesel for the van; tolls on the Autostrada; parking; local trains, busses, metro lines, boats, ferries; food purchases from grocery stores (basically at the villa); taxis and/or shuttle busses. Common costs do not include payment for rooms, major train, museum and tour purchases prior to our trip, meals, van rental.

Phones. Make sure you have European capable phone.

Adapters/Transformers/Extension Cords. Make sure you have adapters for Europe. The standard European two pronged adapter works in Italy, however, the Italians have three pronged electrical outlets. That center prong is a ground. I would bring an extension cord because in Europe, especially in smaller hotels/bed and breakfast places there are far fewer outlets than in the States. Most things we use today are dual voltage (220/110). However, you need to check your electrical items to be sure. Sometimes hair dryers are still only 110 and if you plug a 110 appliance into a European outlet, you might want to have the fire department number handy. It will quickly go up in smoke.

Italians eat later than we do. Unless it is a place specifically designed to address mobs of tourists, most places won’t serve before 7 pm and most Italians won’t even show up before 8 pm. In much of Europe outside of the German speaking areas, it is difficult to get restaurants to divide the bill. In some cases they will but don’t expect it. Many smaller restaurants do not take credit card either. Tips are not expected as in most all cases it is included in the cost. I usually round up to the next Euro unless it was very good and then might go up 1 plus. For the cleaning staff in hotels I normally leave about a Euro per day. This does not pertain to the Villa since we are on our own there. In Italy, many restaurants charge coperto, which is live a cover charge. Basically it is your place setting, the dinnerware and glasses. Normally about 2 Euro a place. When buying things like Gelato from a shop, check the prices first. Most are quite reasonable, but occasionally you will get sticker shock from some that routinely sell to tourists.

Stores are closed on Sunday except in those areas that focus entirely on tourists. Stores are closed between noon and 3 pm in most areas. Remember tax is included in the price of things you buy…not added on like it is in the States.

Travel documents. Make a photocopy of your passport picture page and keep it separate from your actual passport. It is easier to get a replacement if you have that information available.

Travel as light as you can. They don’t have dryers but they do have clothes lines. However, the Machines are small and take long time as European wash machines boil the water.

Although the weather south of Lake Como should be mild, it is still April and it can be chilly, especially at night. I would bring a sweater and jacket. And of course, never go to Europe without an umbrella.

Your best bet for getting cash is using your ATM Debit card. Travelers checks are out. Ditto for exchanging large amounts of American cash. You might want to check with your bank to see if there is a European/Italian bank that is a partner. Many/most banks have a charge for a withdrawal, regardless of how large. I normally try to withdraw as many Euros as possible in one draw. If your bank has a partner bank, it is possible you will not have any withdrawal fee. The ATM card must have a 4 digit pin number to access the machines. Also, notify your credit card and ATM card companies of your travel plans.

Europeans use chip and pin credit cards. This means that they do not have to sign for purchases. We have the old fashion slide card or the chip but sign cards here in the States. This has no impact at all on most purchases as the seller can use our cards with no problem. The only case where our cards do not work is at automated machines, like Metro tickets, some train tickets or automated toll booths. Do not worry about your credit card, as long as you notify the card company of your travel plans.

Posted by ChrisandSoni 07:51 Archived in USA Tagged venice travel lake italy rome naples pompeii chris milan como soni Comments (0)

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