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.
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!
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.
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.
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.