Friday, October 18, 2013

Journey Through the Alps - Italy

The drive to Italy was breathtaking! The villages, castles, and churches tucked up in the green rolling mountains were so curious and we wanted to explore them but it was difficult to get off the highway.  So we drove on without even a good picture!
We arrived in Verona in the late afternoon and after navigating the narrow one way streets (and after a few wrong turns) we found our hotel.  It was in an ideal location - right around the corner from the pedestrian zone.  This was the courtyard right outside our hotel room.
The entrance from the courtyard into our hotel room.  I wished that a Puccini aria could have been playing the background!
We took to the streets of Verona to explore.

Street performers.  When they dismantled at the end of the day they covered themselves up with a large sheet so no one could see how they did their balancing act - although we figured it out!
A shopping plaza with an open air market.

Right around the corner was Juliet's house!  Although Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet in Verona - it is not based on a true story.  However, there was a family that lived there with similar names and their home still exists with a balcony.  It has become a popular tourist destination as the house of Juliet.
I played the role of Juliet when I was a senior in high school so I felt a sort of connection to this place.

There was gum and notes and love locks all over the place.
We were on the lookout for some place to eat dinner but had to stop for some gelato - as an appetizer.
The Arena di Verona is an amazingly well-preserved colosseum that was built in 30AD.  It is still in use today for operas and other events.  It was closed so we never got a chance to walk through it.

Our goal was to find a restaurant that made their pasta in house and we eventually stumbled on this place.
The homemade gnocchi was to die for and they cooked our steaks right in front of us on the grill beside the fire.
We wandered back to our hotel and marveled at the architecture and building facades.  Not sure what Wes was doing in this picture...
The next day we stopped for a quick in lunch in Milan in order to see this!  The Duomo di Milano - the Milan Cathedral.  It was incredible - huge and very ornate.
The tourists were buzzing because a movie was being filmed in the plaza.
And there were pigeons everywhere - and these cute kids.
A man handed me a few kernels of corn and all of a sudden I was attacked by pigeons.  Well - not attacked - but they just landed on me to eat the corn.

The shopping galleria right next to the cathedral - filled with very expensive shops.

We had a quick pizza lunch in Milan and then continued on to our destination - Lake Como.  It was cloudy and late in the day so these pictures do not do this beautiful lake justice.  Como has been a popular destination for tourists and aristocrats since Roman times.  Many celebrities - including George Clooney - have villas here.

Looking back at our hotel which sits directly on the water.
A villa across the water.

We wandered into the small town of Cernobbio in search of a dinner place.

We decided to explore some charming back alleys and became more excited with every turn!

We eventually ran across this little gem of a restaurant that makes its pasta in house - perfect.
The owner/waiter was so friendly and created a custom dinner for us so we could taste all of his homemade pastas.  I think the pumpkin ravioli was my favorite but the tagliatelle with bolognese, vegetable marinara or pesto came in a close second!  Yummy!!!!

Our time in Italy was like a dream!!!  So lovely and romantic.

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