Wednesday, July 16, 2014


As I close out this blog and send to publish, I smile with chuckles in my heart!  Best Trip Ever!

1) Accomplishment!  I traveled abroad for 6 weeks ALONE and realized that I can do anything!  Stepping outside of my box and looking at the unknown, a feat in itself.

2) Learning!  I learned so much about myself. About another culture. About people. That there IS a life outside of my usual life, albeit so different, that is just as cherished as what I know, day to day, at home!

3) Friendship!  Made so many new friends that I still stay in contact with today. But most importantly, my friendship with Lisa.  For her to pick up and leave her husband and young children to come spend 14 days with me in a land so foreign to us, really made me realize how close our bond is!  We've been many places together but this trip was such an adventure and so much fun.  How cool to experience this with someone who I can so easily call my BFF.....Best Friend Forever!!
she also gifted me with the most awesome jounal/notebook for travel that I've ever seen.  Cannot tell you how many times I referred to, wrote in, stuck stuff in and re-read this book.  Still do!  And the fact that she made it for me was the icing on the cake!

(saved all the wine labels from bottles we enjoyed...also a gift from her - Wine Label Lifters!!)
  1. Definition of arrivederci (interj)

    Bing Dictionary
    • ar·ri·ve·der·ci
    • [ àrrivə dérchee ]
    1. goodbye: goodbye for now

Notice in the definition.....goodbye FOR NOW
Hopefully, I'll be back someday!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Saturday Morning Departure!

September 22, 2014

Our fearless leader, Lenora, arranged for a driver to pick Lisa and I up at the B&B to take us to our next destination....Vicopisano......about 2 pm.  It was only about a 45 minute drive there and easier since there was no train station there.
We were able to have a leisurely morning with our new coffee mugs at breakfast...
 ... took one more walk thru town....and to have a little lunch.
We chose an outdoor trattoria that had tables across the street where we could do some people watching.  That is one of the most fun things to do in Italia!!  Fascinating.  See her at our table under the green umbrella!
We began with a cheese tray.  Now, when I say cheese tray.....I mean the most delicious cheese you've ever tasted.  Seriously. Cheese in Italy is totally undescribable.
Throw in a cold birra!
a huge muffaletta..
and a leetle bit of lasagna....

mmmmmmmmm....another glorious meal in Lucca!
Across the street there just so happened to be one of those chocolat shoppes!!!
Back to the B&B to say goodbyes to our new friends......and a great big hug to Lenora for planning an awesome adventure!
Here we are driving thru the countryside on our way to Vicopisano..where more adventure awaits!
It's always a bit scary when you first come upon the houses and apts plain and unassuming. But once inside, they turn into islands of beauty!!
Wait till you see our apartment!!
(Lisa is with me for 3 more days!)

Day 3 in Lucca......and our last....:(

September 21, 2012

After breakfast of cappucino and croissants this morning, Lisa and I took off to find a post office.  HA!  I kinda had alot of stuff I needed to ship home cuz there was no way it was going on a plane!  As we meandered thru the streets, we came across street markets and gorgeous shops....did I mention how super duper cool the shopping is in this sweet town?  Oh yeah!!!!  Loved this lil lady selling her solid olive wood wares.

We finally found a post office and OMG!!!!  Not one single person in there spoke one word of English.  If you can get a mental image of one gal from the deep south and one gal from the PNW trying to explain that we needed boxes and shipping for a whole lotta stuff.....with our hands...??? then you're prolly laughing your arses off right now!!  I think we were in there for over 2 hours but finally, because of Lisa's brilliant organizational skills...we got it done.  And I had no idea if we even sent it to the right place!!
We needed BIRRA!!  beer.
We found a sweet outside cafe 
where we had fresh vegetable sandwiches and cold birra!
By this time, we were pretty tired.....we were on the 10th day on non-stop go.  Eating non stop and drinking non stop and laughing....well, that NEVER stopped.  We were pooped!
Chilled all afternoon and then we all met for dinner one last time.
Gli Orti di via Elisa
Via Elisa, 17, 55100 Lucca, Italy
Beef Carpacio
Fresh veggie and fruit compote
Molten cake with Puccini's pic on top!

I had so many more dishes here too....we all swapped and tasted each other's.  And I will have you know that I ordered my entire meal ONLY in Italian!!!!!  Even video'd it on my phone.  Highlarious, I tell ya!
Italian with a southern coonass twang!!!  hahahaha.....waiter even told me "Brava"!!! (wink a bit of sarcasm in his voice!
SEPT 14-21, 2014
Back to B&B to pack.....Going to Vicopisano tomorrow!

on our walk back from the restaurant on this final night with the girls...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lucca.....Day 2

September 20, 2014

On this morn, we were up and had breakfast by 9:30 so we could meet our guide, Gabriello, for a walking tour of the city.  And what a beautiful day for a walk it was....He was adorable. He spoke English but with a very thick Italian accent.

We saw museums, architectural delights, churches, piazzas and a whole lot of history at each place.

Every church was more gorgeoous than the last
street in Lucca with the famous Guinigi Tower at the end of it
"The city of Lucca in Tuscany, Italy, is famous for its medieval architecture and intact city walls.  Yet among all of its exquisite buildings one stands out.  The Torre Guinigi or Guinigi Tower in English towers over the city.
At the top of the 44.5 meter high tower is something of a surprise – a garden containing, of all things, oak trees.
High above the city this small wood has provided a haven of peace for centuries"
Even with all the beautiful ancient architecture, I still found the simple sites the best...

my love for the doors of Italy continues...
and the chocolat shops...mmmmmmm
We also saw the site of the Roman amphitheatre of Luca
can you see the rounded building?  this is a shot from the outside of  it. Beautiful bricks, stone and architecture.  In this day an age, it is now an open arena of shops and restaurants and homes.  You walk thru arched openings into this...

the lower areas are shops and restaurants and cafes behind the umbrellas.  Puccini even has a music shop here.
As we were strolling, we came upon an art gallery and look what came running out to me!!

I was missing my SophieJane so bad so this was just what the doctor ordered!!
It was also at the juncture that Lisa and I decided that we really needed a beverage other than wine.  We needed hard liquor!! Hard to come by in this country. So when we saw a bar that had it on shelves, we jumped on it.  I think I had 2 bourbon and cokes and she had some vodka and I think we spent about $40 dollars for it.  Best 40 bucks we ever spent!! hahahahaha
Our tour lasted 3 hrs and by the time it was over, we were, of course, famished!! Hahahahaha.....what is it about Italy that makes one want to eat every few hours??!!!
So, Lisa and Jerri and Mary Gnome and I found the cutest lil outside tratattoria for lunch

and such a beautiful day to eat outside!  Where we enjoyed...a cheese tray, tagliatelle with fresh mushroom sauce and pesto pasta!

  Remember, I talked about Lucca being the "walled town"?
This is the wall.  On left is old Lucca...on right, across the fields is new Lucca 
Our next plan of action was to rent bikes and ride around the wall surrounding the whole town.  And oh, what fun!

On your mark, get set, GO!!
We all took off together and the path around the wall was absolutely stunning!

Drank water from the street fountains
Even had an ice cream, I mean a gelato man!!
After we made the entire circle around the city, Lisa and I rode off into the wild blue yonder...looking for shopping! And we just so happened to find it in the form of a fine Italian leather shop!!....where all of my daughter in laws and her kids got happy's!!
After we turned our bikes back in and were walking back to the B&B, we came across an outdoor market which was selling everything.  Including a bakery food truck! 

 OMG.  Just look at what we HAD to have...

She's gonna kill me but I couldn't resist!  HAHAHAHA!

And what could make this perfect day even better?  Buying a pair of Chanel sunglasses on the way home AND finding this on our doorstep when we got there!
Our B&B delivered clean clothes to us!!!  We hadn't had anything washed, except in the bathroom sink, for TWO weeks.....and on this night, we had fresh clothes!!!!!

The rest of our group had plans for the opera this night but we were just too exhausted. Instead, we went next door and ate pizza and vino

....and went back to room.  They even gave us more wine and we carried it home in a leftover plastic coke bottle!!