TUSCANY BY BIKE Photos from a great trip.

Last post of 2019, I was off line while transferring all my photos to a new computer and should be doing posts on a far regular basis in 2020, Buon anno a tutti

 

 

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To really see this ups and downs of Tuscany, do it on a bicycle. Above View from Piazelle de Michelangelo view of Florence 

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Always stunning views.

 

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There were a lot of hills on this ride, but everyone finished.

 

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Monteriggioni

 

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Monteriggioni

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Monteriggioni

 

 

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Easy riding through towns.

 

 

 

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Terre del Mangia, Siena

 

 

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October brought fall colors to the region

 

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Land of Chianti

 

 

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A nice days ride, GPS track from San Gimignano to Siena 

 

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Brunello one fantastic Italian red wine

 

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I was riding by a grove of olive trees when a gentleman offered to take my photo.

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Beautiful Cypress trees line the roads into this BnB in Tuscany.

 

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The freshest tomatoes are from Italy. 

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PIENZA IN THE RAIN 8x10

 

Last day it rained in Pienza, but the ride was over.

My Favorite Streets In Rome

This year we returned to Rome for eight wonderful nights.  In 2017 we were in Rome for two weeks, and enjoyed becoming familiar with the city. It was no longer intimidating. On our last visit we stayed in an Airbnb on Via Dei Bianchi Vecchi. It was a great location to walk to many of Romes’s attractions. This year we found an Airbnb that did not have 67 steps to climb to the second floor. It was located on Via Cappellari about 200 feet from the Campo Dei Fiori.

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From our location which was “Via dei Cappellari, 124 primo piano” we were able to walk to the following sights.

Chiesa Dei Stata Barbara Labrari

Chiesa Dei Santa Barbara Dei Librari

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Chiesa Dei Santa Barbara Dei Librari Interior

Well worth the visit, small and beauitiful

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Campo dei Fiori

The Campo dei Fiori is a great place to wanter and view the sights night and day. Surrounded by restaurants and shops, it transforms from a daytime tent city to vendors selling everything from fruits and vegetables to clothing and other items to a huge area wandering people. 

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Stalls and shops at the Campo

St Peters is about 10 min from the area. Walk down Corso Vittorio Emanuele and cross of the bridge by Castel Sant’Angelo and make a slight left and you will see it ahead.

 

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St Peter from the dome

 

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On to lunch in Trastevere

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The chiesa of Santa Maria in Trastevere was another short walk

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Always a wedding seven days a week

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Crossing the bridge headed back to our Airbnb a beautiful view of St Peters in the distance 

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MILAN, ROME, LAKE COMO AND MORE ONE MONTH FOR TWO $4500

In five days my wife and I leave for a month in Italy. The cost is about $4500 which includes airfare, car rental for fifteen days, Airbnb apartments with wifi, ac, and kitchens, one extra night in Miami on return.  A similar tour from Globus costs $5,400 and does not include airfare. And it  is for 10 days, not 30.    I have not included meals in my trip, and Globus usually does include some meals. Globus states it’s meals as follows “Full buffet breakfast daily; 2 lunches in Gabiano and Vercelli; 2 three-course dinners at a local restaurant in Milan”  So that is two lunches, two dinners, and breakfast each day.   

If we were t compare the Globus tour to mine, it would cost approximately $15.000 plus AIRFARE to get close to mine. PS, I purchased my tickets from AirItaly in February. I flew with them last year and it was a perfect trip. 

The best way to travel so inexpensively is shoulder season,  We fly out of Miami on Sept 19th and got airfare for $780 round trip non stop for two people.  Flying into Milan less expensive than going to Rome. You can get rail or air transit to Rome at very reasonable prices. So why not see more, do more and enjoy more with the $10,000 you can save by doing it on your own.

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Our Airbnb in Milano. Elevator service and lots of windows. 

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Our Airbnb in Vicenza

Each of our reservations has reasonable rates. Rome was the most expensive costing $120 a night for a first floor apartment in the Campo Dei Fiori neighborhood. We like this area as you can walk to the Vatican, the Ghetto, Piazza Navona, and many more locations. Bust stops are just a block away. 

IMG 1714Vicenza, Italy last fall.

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Milano, trams are the best way to travel.

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Prada, Milano

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II , Milano

Prada, Versace, Pasticceria Marchesi, Luisa Spagnoli. Tod’s , Giorgio Armani, Gobbi 1842, all these and more await you at the Galleria 

Follow the blog next week as I report on our trip. Airbnb review, dining, shopping, and doing it on a budget.

How to find a great Airbnb in Rome

We have visited Rome several times and always enjoyed our visits. Location is one of the most important factors. If you have a favorite neighborhood such as Trastevere, Testaccio, or Campo Dei Fiore base yourself there. Save time and money by being able to walk the areas. In 2017 we stayed near Campo Dei Fiore.  It was a perfect place to explore the neighborhoods and walk to some many places. The Vatican and St. Peters was walkable. Restaurants abounded and shopping for food was close by.

When we booked it, the description looked great. The fact that it was on the Second Floor sounded doable.  Keep in mind the Italian way of numbering floors is quite different from ours. The ground floor or piano terra which is what we in the US would call the first floor. The next floor is the first floor, or primo piano, then on to the second floor which piano second but you are really on the third floor.

Keep this in mind as elevators in the older ( but beautiful) buildings are not prevalent. This is a time lapse of the descent which makes it look easy

52 Steps each time you go in or out

 

 

 

Here are photos from Rome in 2017. Not bad, reasonable space and would return if not for the steps ( 52) 

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This year I began my search by indicating the dates I needed, the number or people and I specifically searched °Campo Dei Fiore°. This reduced the number of locations and I then searched from the map.

 

Airbnb map rome

Viewing each listing VERY carefully, I looked for WIFI, KITCHEN, A/C, and NO SMOKING. When I found all of these I looked at all the photos, and at least the first four pages of reviews. It is important to evaluate a review.  As some one who has stayed in Airbnb in the US and Italy I check carefully and recheck with my wife. One bad review does not make a place unworthy of staying. Keep in mind that the map prices shown do not show what the prices really are if you did not fill in your dates of travel. The time of year makes a big difference.

 

This is a review I posited after a stay in Rome for 18 days in 2017″

“Overall we enjoyed our stay with Marzia. She was very quick to respond to our requests. The location is amazing. Walk out the door to restaurants, shops, a wine bar, and Campo de Fiore. Vatican is about 7-minute walk, save with Piazza Navona. Bus stops on Via Vittorio Emanuele. There is a restaurant on the other side of the building is excellent, Polese, we spent several evenings there. Also,check out the Suplizo on the same street as you head to Campo de Fiore. Great for take out. Kitchen is small but fully stocked with pots pans etc. Small frig but grocery store and the market are so close you will always have fresh food. The bed is comfortable. Hot water works well. WiFi good for browsing and email. AC works, but we arrived in mid September and found building comfortable with out it. The rear has a small terrace which was nice for dinner and wine. It does not have a view, but it was very pleasant. This is an older building and you have 52 steps to get to the room. It was not a bother to me at 74 years old, but my wife took a break going up the stairs. Neighborhood is good and safe. Only problem was major construction going on next to us and loud banging on walls starting at 7 am. I believe this is now finished as far as the wall banging goes. My wife and I enjoyed our stay.”

 

I would add that I was give a refund of 300 Euros to compensate me for the noise.  I would return there again, if I could not find something on a lower floor.

 

For this years trip, we found a great place on the Primo Piano which will make things much easier. Located steps from the Campo Dei Fiore, I look forward to walking to so many sights and attractions. The bus stops are close by and the neighborhood is very safe.

The photos below are of our Airbnb for this year.

 

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This is a decent sized apartment and we are looking forward to it. I will review it in full when we return from Italy in October.

 

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La Bella lingua, or how I learn Italian.

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Learning Italian is an ongoing project of mine, The first time we visited Italy was in the mid 1980’s.  My wife and I spoke little of no Italian. My mother inlaw spoke well, but with a Sicilian dialect which some Romans resented and preceded not to understand, These days my wife and I can manage fairly well. I am better than she, by choice and hard work. She can grasp the language more quickly than I, but has many other interests that keep here occupied.  That said I have used several different methods  to learn Italian.

 

Pimlseur is one of the best methods if you commute or do not have time to sit down and practice writing and reading.  

https://offers.pimsleur.com/free-trial-1401-brand?utm_source=google&utm_term=pimsleur%20italian&utm_campaign=G_Pim_Brand_Italian_Tier%201_Exact&utm_medium=cpc&gclid=Cj0KCQjwov3nBRDFARIsANgsdoEmamrfEcunNu16hAzWBRkNogmzOpMUg9l32B92XosiZ-PvYLZptP8aAj3ZEALw_wcB

Now it is an online subscription, but you can still find lessons as MP3 or audio book on Amazon, Ebay, or Audible.  Levels go from 1 to 5 and do a good job on basic conversation.   Problem with the recordings is that you get no spelling exercises  and that does not help reading comprehension. Their accompanying booklets do not use vocabulary from the lessons. 

 

 

Rosetta Stone never did it for me  I tried and now my DVD is out of date for the next operating systems.  My feeling is do not waste your  money. They are also on a subscription program.

 

DuoLingo is a great way to learn using your tablet, phone, or PC.  It is free, but there are options to learn  without ads or being interrupted because you made too may errors and the program will not allow you to continue (with the exception of practice sessions) until the next day. You learn with written and audible lessons. One listens and is asked to translate as well as read and translate English to Italian and Italian to English.   There is a lot of repetition and that helps learning. Here are some examples from various lessons, 

 

 

https://www.duolingo.com/

 

        

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Yes, I really love DuoLingo.  But there is no one on one with a teacher.  I always have questions and Googling does not always get the correct one,

 

 

Italian Pod 101 has extensive resources for learning.  Hundreds of lessons from beginner to advanced.  It has good grammar instruction and various resources.  Those include Video, Audio, flash cards etc.   

https://www.italianpod101.com/index.php

The differentiating factor is the you can get your own teacher.  I find this very helpful and it has made me renew my membership for another year.

 

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Sample screen shots

The one on one instructions read like a book, You send a message back and forth and it continues so you always have a record of your instruction. You are able to send audio clips, photos, 

 

 

My teacher, Valentina, is very helpful and instructive. She is what makes Italian Pod 101 so effective.

 

Sample correspondence:

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SAT, JUN 01

Teacher
Ciao Greg, come stai? Spero bene! Ecco un nuovo esercizio per te. (Fammi sapere se questo l’hai già fatto in passato, non mi ricordo) youtube.com/watch?v=_hnPAciqG_U&list=PL71wtqaYwBCJXAzxWhq44UQzlHhvw0-Ru&index=3 La casa Feng Shui 1. Perché Laura è stupita quando torna a casa? 2. Cos’è il Feng Shui? Qual è il suo scopo? 3. Fai un elenco dei cambiamenti che ha fatto Marcello, facendo un confronto prima/dopo. Divano: Prima il divano era… Adesso è… Parete: Comodino: Tavolino: Mobile con giradischi: Poltrona della nonna:
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4. Scrivi tutti i commenti positivi che ricordi di Laura sul nuovo arredamento. 5. Perché Laura preferiva il tavolino di plastica? 6. Completa le regole del Feng Shui che spiega Marcello. (1 o più parole) “Il divano deve favorire la ……… e dare un …….. di ………. Per questo non deve trovarsi vicino ad ……… come porte e finestre e deve ……….. a una parete.” “La parete del divano deve essere libera: niente …… , …….. o …….” “I mobili e gli oggetti di plastica bloccano il ……. …. …….. I materiali migliori sono quelli ……. : legno, …… e ……. 7. Secondo te, qual è la vera ragione per cui Marcello ha tolto la poltrona della nonna?
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SUN, JUN 02 My answer to questions 

Ho riso. Lui è come mia moglia]
EDIT
04:12
TUE, JUN 04

Teacher 
Davvero? Ahah
02:22
WED, JUN 05 My answers to questions 
1 1 Laura è stupita quando torna a casa perchè lui ha cambiato I mobili, i quadri, i colori. Niente è lo stesso.
EDIT
02:53
2 Feng Shui è un modo di organizare una stanza e una casa. Il suo obiettivo è massimizzare la vita, l’energia, e il fluso della casa.
EDIT
03:01
La lista di cose cambiati: Il divano era vicino della finestra. Adesso è accanto la parete. la parete era gianca e adesso è roso le mensole mancano anche i libri Adesso sono spostati. Perchè il divano dovrebbe libera. il tavalo di camera da letto è in in sogiorno adesso. Gli incensi è sopra il tavolo (il comodino) il tavolo era plastica adesso é fatto di legno I mobolie con grandischi da il toco vintage. Non sono certo che era li prima. La sedia della nonna no è qui, Sembra che era molto grande. Ma adesso ćè una sedia moderna, senza le bracia

 

 

To sum up, no one method will suit everyone.  I am able to hold a reasonable conversation when in Italy, ask directions and order a pizza without anchovies vorrei una pizza senza acciughe

 

Buona fortuna a tutti. 

The Language Of Love Italian Style San Valentino e Amore | ITALY Magazine

 

I saw this in Italy magazine, and it is appropriate for the coming week. Italy Magazine is free and always has good content. 

Enjoy.

 

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https://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/san-valentino-e-amore?utm_source=ITALY+Magazine+Newsletter&utm_campaign=e5cd089dd2-ITALY+Newsletter+-+January+12th+2018_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7e828ebed3-e5cd089dd2-433445:

 

Content copyright Italy Magazine 2019

 

google-site-verification: google1482e637de4bc209.html

 

Vincenza, Veneto, Italy

VincenzaI came upon VIncenza during bike tour in October.   A beautiful city in north east Italy. This photo is of Ponte San Paolo

 

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Porticos as we walked to the centro for dinner.

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The civic Bissara Tower was built in the late 12th century and overlooks Piazza dei Signori, alongside the famous Basilica Palladiana.
The tower was raised in the mid-15th century to it present height og 82 meters ans is still one of the tallest buildings in Vicenza.

 

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The centro or downtown area is great for dining or shopping.

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Upscale Pricing Here

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My bike tour group heads for dinner in VIncenza

Venice, Sometimes the Best Things ARE Free

Venice can be expensive. The view from the Campanile is amazing. High up with no obstructions. But you have to pay 8 Euros.  Yes that is not much for such a great view.DSC05036The Campanile of St. Marks Basilica, Venice

 

San Goorgio Maggiore

The Island fo San Giorgio Maggiore from the Campanile

 

But for free you can visit the Fondaco dei Tedeschi and take the lifts to the top of this amazing retail complex. The literal translation is the warehouse of the Germans. Goods came in from the Gand Canal and could be stored in the building. The entrance is free, and here is a link and you can reserve you time from the web site.DFS group has over 400 stores on 4 continents. . 

https://www.dfs.com/en/venice/t-fondaco-rooftop-terrace

Below are some of the photos taken from the terrace.  
Some photos have a watercolor filter.

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VIEWS OF THE RETAIL AREA

 

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SIX DAYS OF CYCLING FROM THE DOLOMITES TO VENICE IN 6 MINUTES

Iin six days we biked about 240 miles from Bolzano to just outside of Venice (Mestre). Almost perfect weather and the most beautiful paths for viewing and cycling.  This tour was with Exodus, a UK based company. I highly recommend this tour. 

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The Dolomites along side the Adige river make this such a wonderful location.  On this day we were riding from Bolzano back to Trento. The scenery was breathtaking. 

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This bridge is in   Nomi , Trentino-Alto Adige/Sudtirol , Italy. What is difficult to see is the spokes that come down from the arc. This is meant to resemble a bicycle tire, and is adjacent to the bike path.

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The Arena in Verona, Operas and Concerts take place here.

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We arrived in the Soave region of Italy. Famous for its grapes.

Here is the link to a aerial video of our 6 days of riding.  It was an amazing trip. The video was recorded from Relive The RIde, a great website for cycling. 

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