Day trip from Florence to Lucca, Italy

Lucca is only 80 minutes via train from Florence and makes a perfect place to visit as a day trip from Florence. I walked 7 miles exploring this beautiful city. I walked a portion of the 4 km completely preserved wall that surrounds the city.

More sidewalk cafes…

and Italian architecture…

p.s.  In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

The Boboli Gardens

While researching what I should see during my 8 night stay in Florence in April of this year, The Boboli Gardens which date back to 1766, was a place I wanted to experience. It’s filled with beautiful vistas, cool sculptures, and a peaceful vibe.

I asked this young man if I could photograph him…he looked so Italian and handsome.

The light filtering through the trees caught my eye.

p.s.¬† In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Day trip from Florence to San Gimignano, Italy

To visit San Gimignano from Florence I took two short bus rides. As you can see from the photos, San Gimignano is a beautiful town with views of the tuscan hillsides. Taking photos was the main source of entertainment on my trip and my souvenirs. Time doesn’t stand still except for when you snap a photo.

I love anything whimsical.

The shops were filled with lavender, ceramics, and lots of other things that wouldn’t fit in my luggage. I did purchase some jewelry and a wooden wine bottle holder for friends and my brother.

I loved taking a break with a cappuccino or a glass of wine to rest my feet.

Why do we love seeing laundry hanging to dry? Perhaps it takes us back to simpler times.

Italian gelato is the best in the world!

p.s.  In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

What to do on a rainy day in Florence, Italy

Of the 11 weeks I spent in Europe, I was blessed with good weather for 10 of them. One of the rainy days was in Florence, but I took my umbrella and went exploring. A wonderful place to visit rain or shine is the Mercato Centrale. The inside is huge with lots of produce, meats, wines, just about anything you can think of. There’s also an outdoor market.

It is difficult to take photos in the rain when you’re traveling solo holding an umbrella, but I managed.

I stopped for a delicious meal of pasta and the famous Steak Florentine. Back in 2001 there was a 5 year ban of this steak because of Mad Cow Disease.

I walked across the Ponte Vecchio bridge…

Rainy days sometimes make for good photography…

I’m happy the U.S. has more outdoor cafes like you find in Europe.

I stopped at a bakery and couldn’t decide on just one.

p.s.  In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Day trip from Florence to Siena, Italy

I took an 80 minute train ride from Florence to Siena on Easter Day. The Piazza del Campo, dating back to the 12th Century, was beautiful! Siena was one of my favorite cities in Italy.

The tuscan hillsides are gorgeous.

The Duomo di Siena is a masterpiece.

I love to capture people living their lives.

Sidewalk art can be so beautiful!

I asked this couple if I could take their photo looking out at the Piazza del Campo.

My love of architecture began in 2010 when I took the Architectural Foundation’s boat tour in Chicago, Illinois.

p.s.  In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

8 nights in Florence, Italy

It was Easter day when I checked into my Airbnb in Florence, Italy for an 8 night stay. I took a few photos after dropping my bags and boarded a train for Siena, thinking it would be less crowded. I’ll post about Siena soon. Anyway, these are a few of the photos from my time in Florence.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is absolutely gorgeous!

Occasionally, I like to use the portrait mode on my phone to blur the background.

Friendly shopkeepers…

The Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River is the most popular bridge in Florence.

This is the Saint Trinity Bridge

Florence was more crowded than some of the smaller cities I visited.

This was me before starting my day…feeling good!

p.s.  In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Day trip from Spoleto to Magical Spello

Traveling through Italy via trains is an adventure. I purchased a 3 month global Eurail pass and used their Rail Planner app which made it much easier, but occasionally I ran into issues. Spello is only a 30 minute train ride from Spoleto (my home base for 7 nights), and on this particular morning I checked the platform as usual and boarded what I thought was the correct train, but once on board after checking with a passenger, found out it wasn’t. I ran to the door but the train was departing for Rome. The next stop before Rome was 30 minutes away. While waiting at that station for the correct train, I saw this man and asked if I could take his photograph. He asked what he could do for me and I said nothing…just a photograph and he obliged. Afterwards, I gave him some money (which I rarely do) and he pulled out the below book and gave it to me. I asked if his feet were cold, to which he shrugged.

His name is Massimo Coppo. He was the author of the book and explained that he had lived in Indiana during his High School years and now lives in Assisi. Back on the train I read some of his book and found out that he had left his profession, house and possessions and returned to the Catholic Church and is an evangelical Pastor. Sometimes taking the wrong train can lead to unexpected blessings.

Once I finally arrived to Spello, I found it to be enchanting.

As I was exploring, I found this path which led to a monastery.

p.s.  In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. My photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Day trip from Spoleto to Assisi

Located just 30 minutes via train from Spoleto, Italy, Assisi was one of my favorite cities, along with San Gimignano, Siena, Florence, Spello, and Orvieto.

Although I walked over 400 miles in 11 weeks of traveling, I didn’t lose any weight ūüôā

The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor Conventual in Assisi.

This is where Saint Francis was born and died. It is a Papal minor basilica and one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Italy.

There’s something about ferris wheels.

Just beautiful!

Another gorgeous view and delicious Italian wine.

p.s.¬† In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Day trip from Spoleto to Perugia

Located 70 minutes by train from Spoleto, Perugia, Italy is another beautiful Italian city. According to my Fitbit, I walked 6 miles that day.

Up and down, up and down, up and down…

Yum…

Love the pastries and the view!

Once I had returned via train to Spoleto (my home base for 7 nights) and was about 5 minutes from my place, a man made eye contact and nodded hello and I did the same back but then he started following me and I would stop and he would make eye contact again, passing me by and then he would stop and look back at me. I went into a store for 2 minutes and when I came out he was still 15 feet ahead of me standing, so finally I stopped because I was at a crossroads and my place was 15 seconds away. I stood staring him down and he seemed unsure what to do, so finally he walked in the direction that I had started to go in which was not my direction and as soon as he was 150 ft away I darted up my street and had my key ready and went in. This can happen anywhere in the world, but it doesn’t stop me from traveling solo. You just need to be aware.

p.s.  In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. My photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

7 nights in Spoleto, Italy

The 2nd accommodation of my 11 week solo European trip was located in Spoleto, Italy, a 90 minute train ride from Rome. I stayed 7 nights and had rented an Airbnb with a kitchen, living room, dining room, bedroom and bathroom. It was mid-April, so still a bit chilly. The owner had space heaters for me in the downstairs and upstairs because he didn’t have the heat on, but I was still cold inside. I went to the grocery and stocked up so I could save a little money. Of course I ate out some also.

There was a laundromat 15 minutes walk from my place, so I placed my dirty clothes in a plastic bag and lugged them over there and realized I had forgotten my laundry sheets (detergent in the form of a sheet for traveling) so I had to lug it back, pick that up and walk back again…uggg. Luckily there was someone there that could speak some English to help me decipher the foreign instructions on the machines. Later in the trip I used Google lens and then translate to figure out cooking instructions, etc.

Most every day of my trip I walked anywhere from 5-8 miles. My feet hurt ūüė¶

Since it was April and I get an early start (usually out the door by 7:30am), there weren’t massive crowds. I stopped for a break and a glass of wine. It seems you can’t order a bad glass of wine in Europe. They’re all good.

I went on three day trips from Spoleto. I’ll be covering those next.

p.s.  In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. My photos were all taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Day trip from Rome to Orvieto

Orvieto is located 90 minutes from Rome via train. It’s a quaint and very walkable town.

The Duomo di Orvieto is gorgeous! April is a great month to explore Italy…the crowds haven’t descended yet.

I encountered cats throughout my travels in Italy.

Around every corner there was something unexpected!

Daily life…

Don’t miss Orvieto when you travel to Italy!

p.s.¬† In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.

Day trip from Rome to Tivoli

Located an hour from Rome via train, Tivoli’s highlight is the stunning Villa d’Este. I toured the inside, but the gardens are where you’ll find the real beauty, fountains, walkways with towering trees, and all types of plants.

The waterfalls are gorgeous!

Italy’s architecture is amazing! Lots of hills/steps to climb and descend.

I refueled with some prosciutto and bread and of course some vino before boarding the train back to Rome.

Tivoli is a great day trip option from Roma!

p.s. In case you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.

Three months in Europe

Back in November, while I was recovering from a hip replacement, I decided to plan an 11 week trip to five countries in Europe, leaving April 2nd and returning June 20th. I would sit at my computer for 8-10 hours a day with my hip throbbing to research for the trip. I decided to spend three weeks in Italy, three weeks in France, two weeks in Germany (I used to live there when I was in the military), 10 nights on the Greek Islands, and two weeks in Switzerland. My itinerary ended up being almost 40 pages long. To make the trip affordable I booked lodging (21 accommodations) thru Airbnb and Booking.com and chose places that were a 5 – 15 minute walk from the train station, so I wouldn’t have to take taxis. I had been to all of the countries, but previously had only visited Rome (for 6 hours from a cruise ship) and Paris (took my niece there in 2007).

My first stop was Rome, Italy for 6 nights. I booked a room sharing a kitchen with two other rooms thru Airbnb. I had pre-planned walking routes using Google Maps.

The Trevi Fountain was being cleaned…

The Pantheon

I don’t remember the name of this fountain

I’m an early bird…no people at the Spanish Steps

The Villa Borghese park was lovely

This was interesting art

Another cool fountain

This was in the Trastevere neighborhood

Lots of sidewalk cafes

The pizza was sooo good!

Yummy cappuccino

I should’ve prepared ahead of time for all of the walking.

The “Art” of asking directions in Rome

Boarding the train¬†in Civitavecchia, Italy, on my way to explore Rome for the first time, I¬†was prepared for the long day ahead.¬†¬†Having¬†organized my own shore excursion to save money, in lieu of purchasing one through Royal Caribbean, I was aware of the strict timeline for my traveling companion and I.¬†¬†Twelve hours to¬†make¬†our way¬†to Rome, explore and return.¬† I had purchased train tickets in advance and the trip was approximately 1 1/2 hrs, each way.¬†¬†The first stop was Vatican City and I was surprised¬†by how quickly we were able to gain entry.¬† Unfortunately we weren’t able to see St. Peter’s Basilica because the Pope was going to speak.

I’m not sure how I managed to get a photo in Vatican City without a person in it…

PICT0921

We quickly walked out of that Country and entered Rome!¬† Next…we crossed the Tiber River.¬† Side note:¬† I was using someone else’s camera…mine had broken!

PICT0928

This is where the fun started.¬† Although we¬†were equipped with¬†three maps, locating the Pantheon was not happening.¬† I’m usually very good with maps.¬† I started asking people for directions.¬† My theory from years of traveling is that unless you get a gut feeling someone’s directions are really good…ask someone else…which I did…again and again…so we arrived at the Pantheon (which I didn’t post a picture of).

Multiple people were responsible for our arrival¬†to the¬†Trevi Fountain…which we tossed a coin into standing backwards.¬† That way you are assured you’ll return to Rome!

PICT0940

 The following two pictures are obviously a street with lots of people and a street with very few!

PICT0941PICT0943

¬†We were guided by a few kind souls to the Spanish Steps…which we didn’t climb attempting to conserve energy for all of the walking!

 PICT0947

¬†I’m not sure what or where this was…but it had nice light!

PICT0955

 Finally, armed with directions from the friendly locals, we headed towards the Coliseum.

PICT0968

You can almost imagine yourself living back in the “hey day” of the Roman Empire!

PICT0964

Rome was a City that surprised me for a variety of reasons.¬† I¬†was surprised that you’re just walking along and then¬†the Coliseum is…just there…I thought it would be farther outside of the City!¬†¬† I did so much research on the flight, cruise, train travel and hotels that I didn’t research every City – I guess it’s nice to be surprised sometimes!

For some reason, I thought Rome would be a bit “dirty” and be more crowded,¬†but it wasn’t!

¬†Tomorrow we skip over to Croatia…one of my favorite places!

Bal Masque

The evening that our cruise ship left Venice, there was a Masquerade Ball  aka Bal Masque.  It was fun to see all of the colorful and unusual masks!

Of course, Venice is famous for their masks…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

¬†“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are.¬† You trade in your reality for a role.¬† You trade in your sense for an act.¬† You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange put on a mask.¬† There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level.¬† It’s got to happen inside first.”¬† ~Jim Morrison

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here are some lovely girls!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My mask was quite simple!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another cutie!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Don’t miss¬†Rome tomorrow!!