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We met our Italy travelers at breakfast time and made sure that those going home today were going back on time to the airport, either via cab or public transportation. Four continued on to Paris, three prolonged their time in lovely Florence, and four went on the next trip. Hopped on a train at 9:25 from Santa Maria Novella in Florence to Bologna, where we were greeted by sunshine and blue skies.
After a delicious breakfast, we prepared for the arrival of our crew. Sitting in a cozy chair in the reception area, we welcomed our travelers as they arrived. Then Steve and I went to the central outdoor food market: a quaint array of food vendors, mixed in with little outdoor eating places.
Another exceptional breakfast at Hotel Blauer Bock started our day with our taste buds dancing: French croissants, mini apple strudel, Brie, prosciutto, fresh fruit salad, eggs, salmon, caviar, various cakes, breads...everything looked so appetizing that it was hard to decide what to choose.
After our last breakfast at Hotel Blauer Bock in Munich, we took cabs to the main Hauptbahnhof, and waited for our train to Salzburg. Great scenery along the way, and in 100 minutes we arrived in Salzburg.
Our private minibus picked us up at 8:00 a.m. at Hotel Hofwirt in Salzburg, and we drove though the Austrian countryside. The hills are definitely alive and well. Tall and gentle peaks, pine tree forests, aspens changing to golden tones, green meadows with manicured farm houses, happy cows grazing...all this against a blue sky backdrop, what a treat to drive in such beauty!
We met Jana after breakfast, and started the day with trivia questions about yesterday’s intro to Prague. Rewards were little chocolate covered cookies that Jana grew up with during her childhood years. 10 questions, 10 winners. We’ll do it again tomorrow .
The day started with trivia and treats. From Klaster to Trdelnik, Graffiti to St. Norbert beer, the questions kept everyone engaged and remembering yesterday’s itinerary. Today’s walk with Jana took us through the Josefov neighborhood in Old Town, once the site of the Jewish Ghetto. It is still one of the most evocative Jewish districts in all of Europe.
After morning trivia, Jana lead us toward the Municipal House, stopping regularly in front of Art Nouveau facades: the Paris Hotel, and others along the way. We then headed to “New Town”, past the Mucha museum. What a pleasure to walk in sunshine today!
Everyone has arrived, all 26 of us are now all checked-in to our home base of Palazzo Vecchio. After a walking tour of the main sights of Florence in 72 degree weather, we all headed for Nerone’s Pizza place... Good conversation, lots of pasta and pizza at reasonable prices.
It rarely rains on our Italy trips, but after 14 years of decent weather we were due for a soggy day. We went to the heart of Chianti, to Villa Pillo, and Elena welcomed us again. She took us through olive groves and vineyards, explained the history tied to the property, and went on to describe the types of grapes growing.
After breakfast we hopped on the high speed train to Venice, and were welcomed by sunshine and a sea of other travelers. Upon arrival at Santa Lucia train station, some group members took a water taxi down the Grand Canal, but the majority of our crew walked the back alleys of Venice, to San Marco Square.
Where is everyone going today? Six went to a cooking class, several went to the Academia and Uffizi Gallery, two went to Lucca, and six took public transportation to go up to Fiesole, a lovely mountain top village overlooking Florence.
We hopped on the high speed train again, and 90 minutes later we were at the Roma Termini where Francesca, our guide for the day was waiting for us. As a former archeologist, Francesca delighted us with exquisite details and anecdotes.
Hopped on the Pitti Viaggi bus after breakfast, and headed to Siena where we were met by Barbara, our guide. From San Domenico cathedral, to the heart of Siena, we learned about this charming medieval walled city.
On the bus today from Florence to Cinque Terre. We were dropped off at Manarola, where our group members split off and had a delicious lunch in the restaurant of their choice. Via Del Amore was still closed, only a vey small portion of the trail was open, which we walked joyfully as we were greeted by the sun and marine air.