Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ladies Tour of Italy with Shannon Wolfe

Well, we shopped till we dropped!  21 curious ladies from the Calgary and Sundre area of Alberta were invited to Italy by their travel organizer, Shannon Wolfe, who is passionate about sourcing out fun destinations for this ladies's travel group.  They have been on 6 tours together now, and their next destination is Australia.... have a shrimp on the barbie for me, gals!

Our group started their tour in Rome instead of Naples due to a transit strike in Germany.... the Italians were very surprised to hear that it was the Germans on strike this time, affecting 6 airports in the country!  Regardless the group was saved by the Eurotravel Bus company and whisked down to the Sorrentine Peninsula from Rome.  Lucky girls only started the tour a few hours late and even got to have a prosecco and homemade cake upon their arrival at the Palazzo Jannuzzi.

The Amalfi Coast highway was our first day trip from Sorrento.  The cliffside views and Michele's slow careful driving made it a relaxing day, despite the altitude gained over the dizzying heights!

Shopping in Sorrento in the evening with time to relax and enjoy the nighttime buzz of the people in the streets.  The Isle of Capri awaited us the next morning as we filtered through the crowds in Capri to escape to the other side of the island Anacapri.  The slower but higher side of the island is home to the locals, shopkeepers and of course the Blue Grotto.  More than half of the group decided to brave the jagged steps down into the little boats, which then swept them under the cliffside into the grotto.  Such a special cove and grotto warranted a little wine celebration afterward, as we watched the other tourists shuffle in and out of the rock hole in their little boats.  Another small group of adventurers took the Monte Solaro chairlift to the top of the island for the ultimate view of the bay of Naples and the Tyrhrennian Sea!

Knowledgeable Nicola greeted us in the Ancient Roman City of Pompeii the next morning for a tour of the buried town.  Newly uncovered homes and shops were exposed after having been sealed by ash in 79 AD.  We saw the fast food vendors, the crosswalk and we even had to line up to get into the brothel, still the most popular place in Pompeii!

Onwards to Rome where we found our neighbourhood quite posh.  We were situated near the Piazza Cavour and behind the majestic Palazzo de Justicia courthouse.  We wined and dined in Trastevere at CIAK restaurant and enjoyed Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe and even Cinghiale for our first taste of Roman primi piatti.  Molto Buono!!!

It was only a short jaunt the next morning across the Ponte Umberto to meet Domizia and we were off on an architectural tour of Rome, weaving through the streets to the Spanish Steps.  We thew a coin in the Trevi Fountain and drank the waters out of the others!  In the afternoon, some girls with Shannon's guidance climbed the Vittoriano, Rome's 'White House' that looks like a birthday cake.  We made sure to say hello to Papa Francesco at the Vatican City Museums, again with our amazingly funny guide, Domizia.

Arrivederci Roma!  A quick train ride to Florence and we were getting settled in amongst the wisteria and rosemary in the gardens of the Pensione Bencista.  Some girls enjoyed a manicure or massage at the Spa, others sank in the views while sipping a spritz!

Our date with Michelangelo's David was not forgotten and we took off down the hill into Florence for the day.  After a stop at the Duomo to view the Last Judement by Vasari, we were hungry for more shopping so were led by Natascha to the Leather Market at San Lorenzo.  Most everyone came home with three purses, one for each occasion!

Our next mission was to conquer the Pisa's Leaning Tower.  In two groups we fearlessly stomped up the 250 steps that wind their crooked way up to the sky.  There were many of us holding on to the walls because the tipsy tower makes you feel like you had too much prosecco at breakfast!  We spent the afternoon in Lucca before returning to Florence for a wonderful impromptu antipasto party overlooking the Tuscan countryside.

Our last morning in Toscana was spent eating the world's best Gelato in San Gimignano and sipping wine at the Crux Bibbiano winery.  It couldn't have been a better morning to visit the countryside, for the sunlight on the rolling vineyards reminded us of our rural home.

During the past 9 days we got used to the traffic in Italy.  But then we found ourselves in Venice where we found bridges instead of walk-lights.  It was a refreshing change to be amongst the canals of this maze of a city.  We visited the Basilica for Sunday Mass and the islands of Murano for glass and Burano for lace, and a few even took in the Barber of Seville Opera at the Teatro Fenice.

We took every transport option possible, a shiny water taxi, the big smelly vaporetto 'city boat' and the gondoliers came to get us to glide us right up to the Locanda Montin for our farewell meal.  A majestic time was had in Venice!

Drops of rain came on our last morning in Italy, our cue to head on home.  Arrivederci Italia and lovely to meet you ladies!  Grazie mille Shannon Wolfe for inviting along such great spirited gals!

Life is too short not to have this much fun!

Saluti a tutte!


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