|Our Italy and France Trip 2009
|We began our 26 day adventure by flying into Naples, picking up our rental car to go to serene Sorrento via the hair-raising and colorful streets of Naples. While in Sorrento, a lovely little town, we explored the
breathtaking Amalfi Coast. Our hotel was a cliff-hanger with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean, Naples and Isle of Capri. From Sorrento, we drove the curvy coastal road to Amalfi, founded in the 1300's; Positano, a village founded by the ancient Greeks with pretty little domed houses and Ravello, our favorite, a little town 1,000 feet above the sea. We also did a boat trip around the Isle of Capri, where we were rowed into the romantic Blue Grotto and visited the ritzy town of Capri. We did an interesting day trip, via boat, to Naples where we took a tour and visited the impressive Archaeological Museum.
From there, we drove through central Italy first staying in Assisi at La Pallotta, a small hotel in an ancient building with the kindest owners. We also dined in their restaurant which was great. From Assisi, we drove to Civita di Bagnoregio. Civita is a fascinating time-warp of the middle ages which can only be reached on foot.
We continued on to San Gimignano, Montepulciano and Volterra, all beautiful and charming hill towns with midieval architecture and art, as well as great restaurants, shops, museums and galleries. We drove on to revisit Florence because we love the renaissance feeling of the city and to visit one of our favorite art museums, the Uffizi Gallery.
Next, we drove to the French Riviera. Villfranche-sur-Mer, an Italian feeling small town where our hotel viewed the marina and the sea, with a was our first stop. From there, we drove to Eze-le-Village a perfectly preserved stone hilltop village with steep tiny winding lanes, now filled with botiques, restaurants and small hotels. We drove into glitzy Monaco, an area with beautiful people, buildings and boats.
Avignon, a town built up with great wealth in the 1300's was our next stop. We walked St. Benezet bridge and had dinner in a restaurant on the Rhone. We actually stayed in a bed and breakfast in Tavel, an old wine producing town in Provence. We hit the big annual flea market there which was so much fun. Good food, antiques and interesting merchandise. We did day trips to Reims, Pont du Guard, the Roman aqueducts, Arles with it's Roman arena where we happened upon a parade of colorfully costumed riders on horses celebrating a French holiday, and dramatic Les Baux in the Alpilles Mountains, another medieval stone castle town, our favorite.
Back to the French Rivera. We stayed in a lovely old villa, now a small hotel in Nice, our favorite location on the French Rivera. We visited the Matisse Museum, the Chagall Museum and other fine arts museums as well as the beach and the busy street scene of Nice. The Russian Chathedral was beautiful.
On our last stop in Varenna on beautiful Lake Como, Italy, we wound down for a few days. We took boat rides to Bellagio an Menaggio and drove to the town of Como on the way back to the Malpensa Airport.
Needless to say, this was a great trip. We are already planning our next one. It will be France and Belgium.