Saturday, July 28, 2012

Italian Riviera: Day 5 con't Lucca

(it's Luigi!!)
After Florence, we were beat. The train ride let us sit for about an hour. Once we got off in Lucca, Shane and I decided to take the long way back to our b&b. 

We'd heard that Lucca was really neat, but it was kept mysteriously behind the walls.
We entered.
On top of the wall.
I'm so glad we did. It was quite charming. Of course the architecture was lovely, and the city center was charming.

We stopped at a pizzeria for dinner and ate outside.
After we literally ordered too much food because of the language barrier, we carried our tired selves back to our room, packed the car and hit the sack.

We were ready to go home.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Italian Riviera: Day 5, Florence

After the Cinque Terre we drove into Lucca where we had booked a room for the next two nights. It was about an hour drive east toward Florence.

We didn't get a great look around the town. It's a walled city and we were staying just outside of the wall, we were anxious to get settled for the night.

The hotel we were in was really neat, an older home/bed and breakfast. Our room was charming, and tiny. There were enough beds to sleep, and that was the most important thing.

We woke early and walked to the train station. Off to Florence we were.
 The train ride took about an hour. It was the perfect amount of time to relax and watch the country side pass by.
Just outside of the train station in Florence. We hadn't eaten any breakfast and the kids were on the verge of starvation so we stopped at the nearest cafe...McDonalds. We grubbed on Pain au Chocolat, from McDonalds, in Italy. Awesome. Of course, Ty was displeased so we located a street stand and bought him a waffle smothered in Nutella. We walked and ate.
 The Duomo. It was glorious.
 A Duomo tenant. (it's a lizard) Ryli and I opted to stand in line to view the inside. The boys opted to find a place to sit. Ty was finishing up his waffle while sitting and a policeman came and told him he wasn't allowed to eat near the cathedral. Interesting.
 Ry lit a candle for Grandfather and Aunt Jeanie.
 I can't believe how big this place felt on the inside.
 The dome was mind blowing.
 Spectators on the balcony.
 After the Duomo we thought we would see how readily available tickets to see Michaelangelo's David were. 
 The kids waited patiently with their various forms of entertainment.
 Turns out, the tickets weren't available and we had wasted about an hour waiting. Good thing we were in the shade. Honestly, it was half-hearted. We weren't too disappointed.
 Onward, to San Lorenzo Market. Leather and silk goods, oh my! While browsing we asked a local about a good place to eat and he walked us to his favorite restaurant.
 We were excited for a break and a special place to eat. This was a tiny little place, too.
 These two had a little fun while we waited...some of the best parts of our trips are sitting down for a meal, or a train ride. I love re-capping with the kids and re-energizing. 
 Fresh Italian Gnocchi!!! Cannon ordered a hamburger, that guy.

After lunch, and a little more shopping we headed over to the Leonardo DiVinci Museum. It was recommended for the kiddos-
 On display were replica's of all of DiVinci's inventions, and they were hands-on. A good thing.
 Until someone get's their finger smashed.
Poor Theo. The manager of the museum felt so bad. He kept trying to console Theo, and if you know Theo, strangers make everything worse. He wanted nothing to do with this guy, it just made him scream louder. He ended up bringing out a toy wooden horse to try to cheer him up.

It worked.

Around 4pm we decided to head back to the train station. It was hot, we were tired, and the kids were done. Back to Lucca.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Italian Riviera: Day 4 con't, Vernazza

In October of last year, much of Vernazza was destroyed by a flood. They are working hard to rebuild this wonderful little gem.
 Tourism has been down mostly because so many businesses were lost in the flood, but this place is coming back together. It was really interesting to see some of the new construction right next to these historic buildings.
 This terre was my favorite of the five. Perhaps because it wasn't overrun with people.

 We cruised the shops and ate more gelato.
 Finally down to the water, which seemed to be the end goal for all of the places we'd visited. 
 We were going to to try to get dinner here, but the restaurants didn't open until 7pm and that might've pushed the kids over their limit.
The colors were fabulous... And this door!

 As we were walking back to the train station we turned around and saw the kids had found a comfy spot to rest. Not sure what brought that about...but they were all smiling!
 Love those ladies in the background!
 Ty just checking things out.
 Our time in Vernazza was short, but well loved. 
I would love to come back to the Cinque Terre and stay for awhile, maybe just me and Shane, one day.

Italian Riviera: Day 4 con't, Cinque Terre- Monterosso Al Mare

We got off the train in Monterroso and this was our view.
 Stunning. And these umbrellas were so neat!
 We decided to walk down the main road to see where it would take us...
 into a tunnel, with an outlet to the water
 then finally to a public beach. We searched for sea glass, and Cannon found just the right rocks to bring home. One for each member of the family, then one for each of his friends back in the States. Ty threw caution to the wind and dove in the water.
 Shane and Ry took off in search of a water closet (which is much harder than it sounds in Italy...)
 and came across some neat spots.
 Including a perfectly placed playground.
 It was a fantastic time to let our littles get some free play, and it gave me an opportunity to step away with my camera and do a little shopping.
 I stumbled upon the coolest chapel I've seen in Europe. The Church of St. John the Baptist.
 Shane called it the Beetlejuice chapel.
 I called it pure inspiration. I just adore this place. 
 The antique crystal chandeliers, the simple stained glass...I was drooling.

 The entrance.
 And just outside the church were several quaint little shops.
 We decided to squeeze in one more village, so we headed back to the train station. Walking back through the tunnel, this man's music echoed through. It, coupled with the ocean breeze truly completed the experience perfectly.