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Tails From the Vienna Woods

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Italy

Autumn in Istria

Tony had a repeat work trip in Trieste, a city we both appreciate for its coastal location (translation: seafood!). The plan had been to drive down for the weekend, and then I would drive back to Vienna on Monday while Tony carried on with his work matters.

We know how that plan went to pot.

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A Simple Sojourn

Our family summer holiday.

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Idyllic Adriatic, Finale. Slovenia’s Seashore

The Republic of Slovenia was the first to close their borders and declare independence from Yugoslavia. After 10 days of fighting, Slovenia became its own country in 1991. Now you know.  Nearly the size of the U.S. state New Jersey, Slovenia’s riviera is the smallest of the former Yugoslav states at just 46,6 km. Now you know that, as well.

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Idyllic Adriatic, Act II. Italy and Umag

Waking each morning to the sunrise was luxurious.

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Idyllic Adriatic, Act I. From Snow to Sunshine

Mother Nature messed with Vienna terribly last week. The calendar may have read, “AIS Spring Break,” but she was having none of that malarky.

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Blowin’ in the (Barcolana) Wind!

How walking felt on Saturday!
Tony needed to be in Trieste by Sunday evening for work, and with Anna Grace away for the weekend on a Scout campout, an overnight getaway in Trieste during Barcolana, the largest regatta in the Mediterranean sounded rather appealing. Yes, Trieste technically lies on the Adriatic. Pesky semantics.
Trieste was, once upon a time, the Habsburg Empire’s fourth largest city, and its only port city. 

Winding down from the mountain range around narrow curves, the city appears. The Habsburgs chose their real estate well.

Though the temperature was mild, we got to experience what the local people and yachtsmen called, “Bora,” the Mistral-like winds that can reach hurricane strength. With no race to watch (the Saturday regatta had been canceled), crowds walked along the harbor front admiring the boats, enjoying the sea air, and visiting the many vendor booths brave enough to remain open. Periodically the winds would gust so strongly that everyone would be pushed a step back!  Laughter followed, and we all carried on with the afternoon.

With Saturday’s regatta canceled by Bora, what else is there to do but to sit for a picnic?
Even in Trieste’s Grand Canal, the little boats were swaying back and forth.

After lunch, a little sightseeing in the city. The Latin, Slavic, and Germanic influences are noticeable all around, from the Piazza Unita d’Italia design to the remnants of a Roman theater.

Of course we ate well during our short stay. Pasta with sardines; a light and delicious Millefoglie; and even a bean soup offered gratis by cooking school students!

The main regatta was delayed on Sunday by a few hours, but because the rains had begun we scrapped our plan to visit Miramare, a Habsburg castle at the far end of the harbor, as well. Since I had a sodden return drive alone ahead of me, I could not stay for the entirety of the regatta, either. A bit of bum luck on an otherwise fab overnight. Tony shared this pretty snap (from our SRO seats) toward the end of the race later in the day.
Twenty-four hours in Trieste was not long enough. We will return.

The Trip to Italy. The Best and The Rest

And the last Italy post, I promise. 
The livestock traffic jams around our villa in Puglia were a regular occurrence. Clayton Theodore was fascinated with this sport.
Another interesting sport was the unannounced, and uncontrolled burning of fields by our neighbors. This one was just across the road one night; the owner of our villa didn’t understand why we were a little concerned. 
In the daylight, and when not ablaze, Puglia’s landscape is a harmonic balance of cactus, olive trees, grapevines, and limes. Fragrant and gorgeous.
There were scattered “abandoned” villas about the area, as well. Our owner explained that many families moved into the city (a relative term) for the services, but maintained the land for farming. These villas had a special charm all their own.

The morning spent in Gallipoli was the perfect amount of time to see the sights and enjoy a quick lunch before heading back home to the pool.

I note this fish market in Gallipoli not only for the freshness of its wares, but for the freshness of the fishmongers, too. 😉

Seaside churches soar above the water.
Part of enjoying the little Puglia villages is wandering off the main streets. It was not my intention to peer into private homes, yet I was fascinated by the recurring theme of homes with the kitchen/living room that opened to the street. In almost every open house a television was running, too.
Just as cute as the little MA48er trucks here in Vienna.
Photo courtesy of the Internet
There are several cities in Puglia that work hard to maintain their Greek heritage. Classes are taught in the Greek language as well as in Italian, and the city signs are often in both languages, as well. The little village of Sternatia was near our villa, and we drove through en route home one day. Not much by way of Greek signs, but the village was a pretty detour nonetheless.

The lowlight of our holiday was the entire day Tony and I spent at the Volvo dealer in Lecce, managing emergency service on my car. Enough said about a holiday in southern Italy spent in an auto dealer waiting room. At least we’d left the children behind at the villa with food (and the pool.)
A day spent at Lido San Cataldo was refreshing.  A few meters off the shore lies the ruins of an ancient port city that one can walk through (in search of octopus, like the children, if the spirit moves you).

Breaking up the long drive home from Umbria, we spent two nights in a farmhouse in the Veneto, about 20 minutes from Venice, and gave Jack a brief look at some of our favorite Venetian sights.

Always good to see a major European monument (still) covered in scaffolding.

Gondola traffic jam.

Laundry day along the Grand Canal.

Cuttlefish at the Rialto Fish Market.

Looking up while in Venice is important.

The island of Murano did not inspire us; in fact, even the shopkeepers seemed forlorn. We moved along to Burano after about 20 minutes for a much cheerier island experience.

Jack agreed with us that Burano was a charmer.

If there was any recurring theme on this holiday of 15 days and more than 3.500 kilometers, it was that we were never identified as Americans.  German? Yes. Dutch? Yes. British? Yes. French? A couple of times. Probably the most interesting anecdote of the holiday, along with the few souvenirs, hundreds of photos, and innumerable memories.
Ciao, Italia!

The Trip to Italy. Siena

I love our family travel style. We don’t believe in “bucket lists,” and we’re perfectly willing to change the itinerary if so moved, a philosophy that served us well on this holiday. We awoke on the second? third? morning in our cottage overlooking Lake Trasimeno, and the vote was for Siena. Sorry, Perugia, we’ll catch you the next time. 

Tony and I spent a week in Tuscany in 2004 sans the children, who were having their own little holiday with the grandparents.  This time, rather than scurrying around snapping everything I “must” snap, we wandered at will along Il Campo while the children climbed the tower.

The city lends itself to wandering, even with the tourist crowds (perhaps because they’re all distracted checking scenes off their bucket list). 

Italian paper stores are a weakness of mine. I enter. I shop. I buy.

The curved architecture was something we missed on the first visit.

Beautiful courtyards escaped my 35mm film camera, too, in 2004.

Siena’s cathedral was supposed to be grander than the one in Florence. God (and The Plague) had other plans. On our first visit the cathedral was against a gray sky backdrop. Not this time!

The cathedral library.

The Baptistry.

St. Catherine of Assisi, the female patron saint of Italy, has her church in Siena.

Siena. So much prettier the second time around.

The Trip to Italy. Veni, Vidi, Assisi

OK. It was impossible not to be impressed as we approached Assisi.
Not so impressive, though, was the board directing us to the Basilica of St. Francis, patron saint of Italy.
These tiles, though pretty, were not the best navigational devices, either. 
And then, we reached the top of a hill.

Hoping for interior photos of the glorious upper and lower churches?  Sorry, no photos allowed, with the basilica being so heavily monitored to prevent event the most ninja-snap on an iPhone. Those of us with real cameras were followed closely, too.  How disappointing.   The commune of Assisi is quite photogenic, though, and we spent a fair amount of time wandering its streets before enjoying lunch in a main piazza. Enjoy the walk through Assisi with us…

Also home to Assisi is the Temple of Minerva, dating from the 1st century BC.

Assisi. A highlight of our time in Umbria.

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