Travel blog

Aunties in Italy: Milan-Venice-Florence

By on November 22, 2013
We’ve finally recovered from our adventures with the Aunties, we think. We stormed castles, delighted in Duomos, scarfed on wild boar, roamed Tuscany terrains and generally made a charming touristic nuisance of ourselves. Grin.

It was, in all, an unforgettable experience. We’ve made a map on Tripline here, where you can find the route that we took, along with links to the B & Bs the Aunties stayed in.

Here is a short summary of our discoveries driving in Italy for 10 days:

Milan. It’s Armando’s hometown, and after he got over the shame/shock/disgruntlement at being a tourist in his own town, we managed to really enjoy ourselves.

Sites to See in Milan:

The Castle is certainly a draw, with a much-diminished circumference made up by the interesting family arms of Milan: a snake eating a man, which winds throughout. 

The Duomo is another must-see, though the external is nearly more impressive than the internal. Until you find the statue of St. Bartholomew, holding his skin in one hand like a cloak. I honestly hadn’t seen such a unique statue in a very long time. It’s a wow.

 *Note: if you want to take photos in the Duomo, it’s 2 Euros . Going to the top is 7 Euros, elevator is 12 Euros.

 From Milan, we made our way to Tremalzo, in the Italian Alps. Those of you that have been following us know that it’s where we said goodbye to Adrian. My aunties wanted to make the trek to the place, both as support and as family.

They stayed at the Albergo Ristorante Garda Tremalzo, which included a home-cooked huge array of local food. It wasn’t just tasty, it tasted like home with richness added.

 Things to Do in Tremalzo:

Now that the ski lift is no longer available (closed down) there are still many people who travel there for its beauty, cycling drop-dead-gorgeousness and cross-country skiing. If you’re anywhere near there, please do yourself a favor and see it. Even enclosed in fog, it’s covered in a unique and delicate balance between serenity and eye candy.

We drove to Venice after a day’s/night’s visit to Tremalzo. The B & B we found there none of us (4 different individuals, mind) would recommend, and it was the only place in the entire 10-day trip that wasn’t above expectations. Nothing was bad- but nothing was great.

Our morning trip into Venice from Mestre was slightly hampered by high winds and even higher rain. We all bought tourist ponchos, and speaking for myself it didn’t help much keeping water out- but did help in spotting my crew. Ha.

The Aunties invested in galoshes-to-go, which worked well for the most part (Cherryl sprung a leak in one, but soon found a replacement). Armando and I ‘fearlessly’ waded through icy waters, over bridges and into the main square. Everything was flooded.

The weather cleared in the afternoon, the Aunties went to the islands of Murano and Burano and we just wandered. It’s mind-boggling how so much water simply- dunno, evaporates-?- back into the sea. It was nearly dry within hours of being swamped.

 Must-Do Venice:

You don’t have to do a gondola in Venice to get the atmosphere. They’re everywhere, and are part of the heart of the experience. St. Mark’s Square is truly worth seeing for its detailing and its architecture. Much vastness.

Venice led us to Ferarra. You shouldn’t feel guilt if you haven’t heard of it- but it’s a nice little town. Lucretia Borgia is buried there. It also has a castle with a moat, which is pretty cool.

Siena wasn’t what we hoped, weather-wise. We’d barely recovered from the Venetian downpour when the skies opened, drowning everything in sight in Siena. The next day was much friendlier, and we took a nice tour through the Siena Duomo (including the intimately detailed fresco room, for 2 Euros – the Duomo interior is free).

We visited the Tuscany countryside, staying in San Quirico d’ Orcia while seeing Montelpulciano, Pienza and the famous wine town of Montalcino, where the Aunties got schooled on their wine palates by an expert. The B & B was quietly nestled in the country. The Aunties took us to a dual birthday dinner (for Armando and I) that involved wild boar, grilled veg and beef in flavor-filled local olive oil.

I honestly can’t remember the last birthday I celebrated with family. It was perfect (thank you Sheil and Cherryl).

Florence Musts:

The outside of the Florence Duomo is huge and more worth seeing than the inside. There’s also the old bridge with diamond and gold shops that are quaintly rustic- and highly priced. Grin.

My favorites, by far, were the sculptures. The Fake David, the fountain and the ‘gallery’ kept my camera trigger finger quite happy. We didn’t suffer from Stendhal’s Syndrome, though, to be frank.

Pisa, Pisa. Pan Pan. I’m guessing only Americans will get that reference, but it suits. Ha. Pisa is now naked of its construction accouterments. It leans. It’s white. Yep, that’s pretty much it. Oh, and there are some other nice white buildings next to it, if you can manage to grapple through the multitudes.

If people aren’t selling, they’re doing the famous ‘Pisa pose,’ each thinking it’s original. Actually, to be fair, it is- because they haven’t done it before.

We finished our tour back in Milan, and back in the warm bosom of Aunt Lidia’s house for dinner. All 4 of us were completely wiped out. I can’t speak for my Aunties, but I for one needed a bit of recovery after. They walked my poor little legs off, then back again- without missing a step.

In all, it really was a one-of-a-kind adventure. I enjoyed every moment. We were surrounded by love. Mork was brilliant (and my Aunties were brilliant with Mork).

As hectic as we all were, I haven’t felt so cozy, so cushy, so fuzzy and surrounded by goodness as I did our short time exploring Italy as a family. With much love, A & M



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