March 20, 2012


The last stop on my trip to Italy was Florence. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it certainly lived up to that standing. I never get tired of  the cobblestone streets in Europe. The crooked winding streets add a level of charm that can't be replicated in Canada. Following maps is not as easy and you end up wandering around until you arrive at your destination. Asides from seeing the main sites of the city we also visited Pisa as well as a wine tour in Chianti. The trip was a great time; being able to spend time with both Andrea and my family was one of the best parts. 
On top of the Duomo
Black sesame and stracciatella gelato. Two of my favourite flavours.
After seeing this post on Brian Ferry's blog I made sure to visit Trattoria Coco Lezzone. It certainly was delicious. 
Turtle support
Outside the winery we visited
Soccer pitch in a small town 
Vineyard and olive trees
My last night in town we sat outside, drank beers, and enjoyed the crisp air of a February evening.  

March 12, 2012

Cortona and More

The town of Cortona is where we headed next. From Andrea's correspondence I had become very envious of her time spent living and studying there the past couple of months. Once I laid my eyes on the town that envy reached a breaking point. Situated on a hill overlooking the Valdi Chiana valley the views from the town are fantastic. Some of the highlights include: the quiet cobblestone streets where locals would great you in Italian, tiny cars flying through narrow gaps, the Lions Well filled with hundreds of people for Carnevale, and delicious eateries speckled throughout, including Bar Sport where you can get a cappuccino and a pastry for 2 euros. In addition to soaking in the vibe of Cortona we also visited a few other towns in Tuscany on day-trips while Andrea was in class. 
Following a road out of town
Pizza, salad and wine. A pretty standard meal during the trip.
Inside the bed and breakfast that we stayed at.
The main square, Pizza della Republica
Snowy path
Santa Margherita
Florentine steak for one
One of the towns we visited was Assisi. The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi is a world heritage site.
Desert boots were my footwear of choice this trip
Street in Assisi. Just like in Japan, following the small side streets to see where they lead is activity that I cannot pass up
Another town with a view, Perugia
Inside the Cathedral in Pienza.
Street in Pienza. The town is another world heritage site as it's a "touchstone of Renaissance urbanism"
Most of the towns we visited had incredible views.
The difference in price for a bottle of wine at a restaurant in Italy versus Canada is staggering.
As soon as you stepped out the door of the B&B you strolled down this corridor
A photo I took during my last morning in Cortona

March 7, 2012

One Night in Rome

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel with my family to Italy to visit Andrea who is doing the last semester of her degree abroad at the U of A Cortona campus. I had never been to continental Europe before and I was looking forward to a break from the toils of law school. The plan was to fly into Rome and stay there for one night before heading to Cortona for 4 nights and then end in Florence for 4 nights. We tried to jam as much of the big sites as we could into that 24 hour period. Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Colosseum, Pantheon, the Forum, and St Peter's Basilica all managed to be checked off my list. This was much to my surprise as I had only thought we'd manage to see a few of them. It's hard to judge the city from my short visit consisting mostly of rushing around but I enjoyed my visit. One day I'd like to return to see the city at a slower pace. 
View from the hotel room
Fontana di Trevi

The Wedding Cake

Outside the Pantheon
Andrea was our tour guide having been to most of these spots before 
Inside the extravagant St Peter's Basilica