by Mary on 06/08/2011 · 5 comments

in Family & Friends, Travel

So yes, I went to Italy for a trip with my friends. The flying/airport parts were tedious, but with very few issues. Stan and I met Margie, Dave & Katherine at DIA, met up with Jim, Ginger and Michelle in Chicago, and arrived in Naples at 11:30am. We had a van for our ride to the townhouse in Sorrento(a fabulous idea based on the crazy driving around Naples). We stayed in Sorrento for a week, with day trips down the Amalfi Coast, around Sorrento, Naples, Pompeii & Herculanium. We also had a couple of our activities stopped by a local strike which closed roads(austarity measures that would’ve closed 2 of Italy’s state run ship yards, including the one just north of us on the coast, made the workers a little mad). The weather was very nice with a fairly constant breeze from the sea to make things comfortable.

The coast around Sorrento is clearly beach resort central, but the town was very walkable with train and boat transportation to Naples. Stan and I had to go up to Florence overnight during the week to complete the paperwork for our wedding, and we had to change from train to boat at the last minute because of the strike, but we did make it.

We took the Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) high-speed train to Floremce, which has a top speed of 215mph. It took only 3 hours. We had to have three separate pieces of paper filled out, signed, and filed at various offices around the center of Florence – 1 from the American Consulate, 1 from an Italian Govt Employee, both taken to another Govt office, and put into the form that allowed us to get married. (Important to remember the the Romans invented bureaucracy.) The paperwork was actually done before noon on Thursday, and we were back in Sorrento by 6pm that night.

On Friday we spent time at both Pompeii and Herculanium, both fascinating and different. Our guide was very good and helped make sense of what could easily just be piles of rocks and other old stuff. The weather was a little warmer, but still very comfortable. On Saturday, the drivers (Dave, Stan, Michelle and Jim) went to the car agency and return with our vehicles – a FIAT Doblo and a Peugeot 5008. We were off like a heard of turtles to Tuscany. We stopped in Rome and picked up Dave’s parents, Hall and Gloria.

The Villa Roncavisi is situated on the top of a hill that looks down on the town of Monticatini Terme, about 45 minutes north of Florence. The Villa was built 210 years ago, although the current owners have updated the inside included by adding 8 bathrooms. It was a wonderful place to stay. On Sunday, we went into Florence by train, and visited the Uffizi and the Academia with a wonderful guide. We took Monday off, swam in the pool, and hung around the Villa, with some of us visiting Monticatini Terme during the weekly market. On Tuesday, we drove to Pisa, about an hour away. We had a great time visiting the Field of Miracles (and boy, does the Leaning Tower lean). Our friends cooked a lovely pre-wedding dinner for Stan and I after we returned.

On Wednesday, there was this ceremony thing at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. (I didn’t take my camera that day, so the photos are on everyone else’s cameras.) Everything went very well, with paperwork done. Sandra ( did a great job and the officiant who married Stan and I was really a hoot. He was having at least as much fun as we were. We returned to the Villa for a Wedding Luncheon prepared by Ana(one of the owners). It was lovely and filling, so everyone retired for a post meal nap. We had a quiet evening.

Dave, Michelle, Stan and I returned to Florence the next day (but not early). We visited the Baptistry, the Duomo Museum and the Bargello Museum and were back at the Villa in time for dinner. It happened to be Anniversary of the Republic Day (150) so there were various celebrations going on around the city, but nothing that got in our way.

On Friday, we visited a couple of Tuscan towns, tasted wine at Vinamaggio (really good) and had dinner with the Butcher of Panzano, a meal not to be forgotten. It was a carnivore’s delight.

Sadly, on Saturday we packed and drove to Rome, checked into a hotel, turned in the cars, ate a hotel restaurant meal, and felt that the vacation was over, even if we hadn’t yet left Italy. The next day we did just that.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip. And Margie deserves a lot of the credit since she acted as the travel agent, setting up the excursions, finding the accommodations, and targeting the flights. And since we were celebrating our 30 year friendship, I guess I’ll have to se up the next one!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Bruce June 8, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Wonderful account! Thanks for sharing! 🙂


2 \\\\ June 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Terrific….felt like I was there…..good for you


3 \ June 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Great stuff……….felt like I was there……….Love you


4 \ June 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Wonderful stuff……….felt like I was there……….Have a long and happy life…… you


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