Oh crap, the canceled my FLIGHT!!!!

It is only a matter of time untill something like that happens. It happened to us twice. Once in Vienna, and the last time in Rome. We were on vacanza, so it was not the end of the world, but it involved extra costs.  In Rome we had to stay an extra three days  ( so hard to take).  The airline had a bogus reason but never went into details.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS IN THE EU.jpg

As we were in the airport to leave my wife found a notice in the airport regarding the rights of passengers in the EU. Click the link below to bring you to this page.

EU Passenger Rights

Much has been written on this subject, but if your are delayed or have your flight canceled check this site. Also check it if your baggage is lost or delayed. Last year Air Berlin would not let us bring our suitcase as carry on even though our connection was only an hour. Our baggage did not make it.

We went back to the airline (Eurofly USA div of Meridiana) through our credit card company and saved almost $1000. They did not contest our chargeback through the credit card company.

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With all our trips to Italy, still like Alitalia the best.

 

The site below may be of help also:

Air Help

May the help be with you!

 

 

 

Il mio sogno…… My dream was to bike the hills of Tuscany

People that know me know I love bicycling. Add that to my love of Italy and you have my dream vacation. I told my wife about it, but she did not wish to go back to Italy again so soon, especially as our last trip was an 18 hour affair which was diverted from Miami to Freeport in the Bahamas! For several years I was getting brochures from Vermont Bike Tours and the ones in Italy really intrigued me

fullsizeoutput_729.jpegSo I signed up and started practicing  climbing the hills in Vero Beach, Florida. Well not quite, there are no hills here. Best I could do is keep going over the two bridges that the connect the mainland to the barrier island.  Add a  back pack and some weight and it was a start.

Our trip began in San Gimignano and ended in Pienza. Each day we biked 35-45 miles. By the end of our trip we have climbed more than 10,000 feet. fullsizeoutput_529d.jpegThe crowded roads we traveled on!

P1040828.JPGOlives and Grapes

fullsizeoutput_743.jpegQuick stop.P1040846.JPGAlways  beautiful views.

P1040852.JPGEach morning Claudio and Elena would give us a briefing on our ride for the day.

fullsizeoutput_3321.jpegfullsizeoutput_3323.jpegEach day brought new sights and some tough climbs.fullsizeoutput_529e.jpegfullsizeoutput_529f.jpegfullsizeoutput_14a5.jpegSo much beauty. I stopped frequently to take photos.

fullsizeoutput_25c0.jpegfullsizeoutput_52a0.jpegMonteriggioni, a beautiful walled village.P1040915.JPGfullsizeoutput_70d.jpegLoved the shirt Elena was wearing.

fullsizeoutput_702.jpegTorre del  Mangia, Siena

IMG_5341.JPGFrom the top of the tower, this where the Palio is held. P1040921.JPGfullsizeoutput_19f7.jpegOur rides took us through the town and alleys.fullsizeoutput_6f5.jpegAnother amazing duomo.

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One of our rides from  SanGimignano  to Siena.

IMG_5349.JPGIMG_5350.JPGfullsizeoutput_6d4.jpegfullsizeoutput_6d1.jpegAs always when I am in Italy it is the Food. Fresh produce that has not traveled 3000 miles in a refrigerated truck. Always items that are in season. This was the best bruschetta I have ever had. The tomatoes were RIPE!

fullsizeoutput_6d6.jpegI passed by a couple of locals and they volunteered to take my photo. This was on one of those roads where we hardly ever saw another auto.  This trip was really a sogno!! I can not recommend Vermont Bike Tours enough. Every aspect of the trip was perfect. Can not wait to do another ride in Italy.    Continue reading “Il mio sogno…… My dream was to bike the hills of Tuscany”

Off the Beaten Path: Capo di Ponte

Another little town we happened upon unexpectedly,  Having left Lago Iseo and trying to further up toTesimo in  northern Italy we happened upon this small village. CIMG5212.JPG

There was nothing special about it, but upon further investigation we found the  hotel Cumili in the center of town that just opened.  Next we found that  there were prehistoric rock carvings close by.

CIMG5232.JPGCIMG5238.JPGCIMG5244.JPGfullsizeoutput_5229CIMG5252.JPGfullsizeoutput_522c.jpegIt is an easy walk to get around the park. Signs are very informative and the views from high up on the hiltop are amazing. fullsizeoutput_5228.jpegThe styles are Tyrolean as we are approaching the northern area of Italy.  Switzerland is a short ride from here. Capo di Ponte.jpg

Map of Capo di Ponte and the surrounding areafullsizeoutput_522e.jpegAs we left heading north top Tesimo, there was still snow in the hills as we passed a ski area. This photo was taken on July 14th, 2008.

Some more information from Wikipedia

The stone carvings of Val Camonica (Camonica Valley) are located in the Province of BresciaItaly, and constitute the largest collections of prehistoric petroglyphsin the world.[2] The collection was recognized by Unesco in 1979 and was Italy’s first recognized World Heritage Site. Unesco has formally recognized more than 140,000 figures and symbols.

Posting from my iPad.

The WordPress app for desktop computers does not like to work with my Apple Photos application.  I have found several workarounds for this, mainly by opening the Apple Mail app and starting a new message. I then open the media browser and select the album that has the photos for the post I am composing.  My photo library has over 30,000 images.   That is difficult to manage worth the media browser for mail.   But the WordPress app for IOS meshes nicely. I am able to choose from any of my albums. This is so much easier that the other method.

Some photos taken last year in Firenze.  Beautiful trip. Climbed up the campanelli and viewed the entire town. This year we are spending 51 days in Sicily and mainland Italy.  We will be visiting Cefalù, Castello Buono, Siracusa, Gange, Lago di Garda,  and almost three weeks in Roma.  Can not wait.  

Off the Beaten Path: San Giovanni in Fiore

In 2001 we made our first sojourn to southern Italy by car. Our destination was Sicily and we had several stops along the way. In Cosenza we stayed at the Hotel San Francesco. Cosenza was a nice town and we were going to take a day drip. The receptionist at the hotel suggested San Giovanni in Fiore.  Her directions ( pre GPS days) were follow the signs for Sila, a mountainous region about forty-five minutes away. It is home to the Parco Nazionale della Sila. We followed the signs and eventually arrived in San Giovanni in Fiore.  fullsizeoutput_147f.jpeg

At first there  was not much to see. The streets were empty of people but as we approached  the center we came upon the Abbey.  Music was coming from the abbey and a young man approached us.  He said he was a tour guide and brought us into the Abbey,fullsizeoutput_51fd.jpeg

The town appeared deserted.fullsizeoutput_51fe.jpegThe abbey.DSCN3958.JPGToday there was a wedding in progress.

DSCN3959.JPGThe original abbey burned in 1215 and  was rebuilt on a new location in 1230. DSCN3960.JPGThe interior shows the stone walls.    We left the abbey and our tour guide took us to a piccolo ristorante.  As is common in Italy, there was no sign and the door was a strubg if beads hanging down to prevent flies from coming in. DSCN3968.JPGThe entrance certainly did not attract a crowd. DSCN3969.JPGLunch was fantastic.  We were give a glass of grappa to finish off the meal.  In the mirror you can see the only other customers that day. I especially liked the stone work which is so prevalent in Calabria. DSCN3970.JPGAnother street with out anyone around.fullsizeoutput_51ff.jpegAs we left to head back to  Cosenza, we ran into a small traffic jam. This is why I love Italy.

Map of San Giovanni in Fiore

https://goo.gl/maps/YqthxkPg6hq

A moment on Lake Como

What better memory than sitting down to breakfast and  dinner while looking out over the lake.   We had a wonderful apartment at Wright Art BnB on the  lake.   We enjoyed breakfast and dinner with the most amazing views.  La vita è bella. 

TODAY IN THE WASHINTON POST: The Ape celebrates 70 years.

What you say is an APE, not an ape, but the ubiquitous little combination of a motorcycle and pickup truck that plugs along all of Italy’s roadways.

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Credit photo and text above from the Washington Post.

The Ape hauls almost anything, from buildng materials to fruit and fiish. fullsizeoutput_d66d.jpegA clasic Ape in Toscanafullsizeoutput_d66f.jpegNothing elegant about this baby, plain  and simple, it does the job.fullsizeoutput_d66a.jpegThis one was at an Airbnb in Montepulciano.

fullsizeoutput_d664.jpegfullsizeoutput_d665.jpegfullsizeoutput_d666.jpegNot only did he sell fruit and vegetable, he serenaded the streets with his words on the health of his produce.

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This fruit vendor was in Cefalù, Sicily.   (fruttivendolo)

Some info from  Wikipedia:

At the end of World War II, most Italians, badly affected by the war, lacked means of transport and, more importantly, the financial means to acquire and maintain full-sized four-wheeled vehicles. In 1947, the inventor of the Vespa, aircraft designer Corradino D’Ascanio, came up with the idea of building a light three-wheeled commercial vehicle to power Italy’s economical reconstruction, an idea which found favour with Enrico Piaggio, the son of the firm’s founder, Rinaldo. The very first Ape model and the mark immediately following it were mechanically a Vespa with two wheels added to the rear, with a flat-bed structure on top of the rear axle. The early sales brochures and adverts referred to the vehicle as the VespaCar or TriVespa. The first Apes featured 50 cc,[3]125 cc or 150 cc and more recently 175 cc engines.

It is hard to imagine a 125 CC engine pulling a big load.

Capo di Milazzo Hidden Treasure In Sicily

We first discovered Milazzo and Capo Milazzo in 2011. We arrived hoping to take the  ferry to the Aeolian Islands the next day.  Since our trip is spontaneous we were finding our lodging on a daily basis. This evening all hotels were booked. I continued to drive from Milazzo to  the the point which looked promising but we did not find anything. Like any good tourist does, I said lets stop and have dinner.  Now or luck turned. A couple sitting next to us heard our conversation and said they were staying close by and had rented an apartment. We could follow then and they would introduce us to the owner. How kind they were.

Long story short: The owner said we would be able to have an apartment tomorrow, as it was vacant but not cleaned. I said give me a broom, clean sheets and we will make it work.  It was a bargain, 50 euros a night and we had a place. See the photos and you know why we  extended  our stay to four nights.DSC_3560.JPGOur apartment with a pool. Even had a washing machine! DSC_3590.JPG Down town Milazzo is inviting in the evening, but not crowded.

DSC_3597.JPGThis is where it starts to become such a thrilling place to visit. I followed the signs.DSC_3598.JPGMare, the sea awaits with a natural piscina, or swimming pool. DSC_3615.JPGThe walk started high up above the rocky shores below.

DSC_3622.JPGI think there was over 160 steps to get down.fullsizeoutput_d63d.jpegA slow descent.DSC_3632.JPGThe piscina awaits.DSC_3633.JPGDSC_3637.JPGCrystal clear water protected from the sea. P1010496.JPGFamilies  came to visit. fullsizeoutput_d65d.jpegThe lighthouse or faro. Below are some of the flowers and sights. P1030438.JPGDSC_3539.JPGfullsizeoutput_d656.jpegP1010480.JPG

I think if you visit Sicily, this make a great place to stop. Visit the Capo, cape, and visit the islands by boat. The city is not too big, but has enough to keep a shopper happy and a food lover content.

La bella lingua Learning Italian

Our first trip to Italy was without the benefit of any knowledge on my part of Italian. My wife with he Sicilian parents had a knowledge of some words and phrases.  I realized this was a disadvantage but not the end of the world.  So much English is spoken in Italy most people can get along. Most restaurants in the tourist areas have dual or triple language menus. English, German, and Italian are  prevalent.

I want to go further and speak to people and know what the road signs say. Not having access to  an Italian teacher, I took another route.  Pimsleur had a CD course in Italian.  I bought the course and ripped the CD’s to my iPod. That was the beginning. It is a good way to learn conversational Italian. Eventually I  progressed from levels 1 through 5 which encompasses about 48 hours of  lessons. I did enjoy it as I was able to listen while driving or riding my bicycle.

Pimsleur Italian Levels 1-5 Unlimited Software

PIMSLEUR ITALIAN LEVELS 1-5 UNLIMITED SOFTWARE

Pimsleur. The Art of Conversation. Down to a Science.

  • Format: Download
  • Lessons: 150
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Free Audio Lesson

Learn a new language while commuting, while cleaning the house, or working out. Like millions before you, discover the power of the scientifically sequenced and portable Pimsleur Method.

As you can see, it is not cheap.  Try the audio only from Audible for a more reasonable price.

    • By Pimsleur
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Member Price:$121.29 or 5 Credits PRICE VARRIES.  Credits are about $10 each depending upon the plan you subscribe to at Audible 
Beyond this I also used  duoLingo. This is a free program with excellent content.
duoLingo.jpg

Exercises progress from basic to upper intermediate.  It is easy and I have been using if for about 6 months now. You can progress at your own pace and go back to. From time to time you may be asked to donate, but this is minimal.  An excellent program for iPhone, tablets, and Android products. You must have WiFi or cellular data connected.

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There are many exercises to improve listening and writing skills.  Voice recognition is available for pronunciation practice.

Next there is Rosetta Stone. This is my least favorite method.  The program has five levels and retails for about $200-250 on Amazon.  It is available for PC and MAC.  It does a good job of teaching vocabulary and grammar, but I find it painful obtuse. In many cases you have to decipher a photograph and  answer questions based upon your interpretation of the picture. 

Some times the photos are not clear and you may give a wrong answer.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 10.59.37 AM.pngTOOLS.jpgnouns, of  places in nature.jpgIt is your choice on Rosetta Stone, I just find it slow. But the content is good.  It has voice recognition to help you with pronunciation.

.  There is also a subscription version. Te computer version is copy protected to one PC or Ma and can not be used on another until it is deactivated.

There are other programs out there. Transparent Language as a program for phones and tablets. It is subscription based.  Seems ok. They offer a free blog with the word of the day.   Michelle Thomas has CDs for many language and they are priced reasonably.

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Buona fortuna!   or as they say: In bocca al lupo

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