I’ve been to Rome a number of times, for leisure and for religious reasons. Many visitors to Rome wish to see Pope Francis. Tickets are always free, and if you’re an American, the best way to request tickets for either a Papal Mass or Audience is to contact the Pontifical North American College in Rome. This is where all the American men in seminary to become priests go for their final three years of study. …
Living in Italy and being a Catholic is an amazing thing. Getting to be up close and personal with the home of my faith has truly been a wonderful experience. I feel beyond blessed to have been able to not only see the Pope three times, but also to have had the opportunity tour the Vatican multiple times has inspired me to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
St. Peter’s Basilica at night, is empty for the most part of the hustle and bustle of the day time. It’s quite lovely and peaceful. …
The Trevi fountain is a gorgeous beast. It’s Baroque style is breathtaking, I dare say there is no other fountain more gorgeous, it is even more beautiful at night. …
One of the most amazing parts about living in Italy has been being able to take a short train ride for a day in Venice. We love it and still find it as magical as the first time we visited this floating city, though we get lost a lot less frequently these days. This weekend my family decided to take such a day for ourselves to enjoy each other’s company while in one of the most amazing places on the planet. Here are a few snapshots from our latest visit to Venice….
A few days ago I shared our day at the sight of the Highline 179 Bridge and Ehrenberg Ruins. We spent so much time walking up the mountain’s path enjoying nature and a story (or four) told by me to our boys about fairies and then at the actual sight of one of the ruins there; we didn’t make it across the bridge.
Our second day at the sight was no less exciting and terrifying – holy cow the bridge is high and long.
Over the Independence Day weekend, we took a drive to the Bavarian region of Germany. Once there we did some exploring and came across the Highline 179 Bridge. Or rather we drove beneath it and my husband was was like, “I’ve got to cross that bridge!” I snickered and was like, “Yeah right, I’m not going UP there.” However, my husband has this great way of getting me to do things that are out of my comfort zone, so the next day we found ourselves at the little town where the bridge is located.
This is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world. No joke-they’ve got the people from the Guinness Book of World Records backing them up. Highline 179 Bridge and the Ehrenberg (i.e. castle) Ruins are located near Reutte, Austria on the Bavarian-Austrian Border.
This is the view of the bridge from a parking area. Up the road we’re on is a little village area with a restaurant, gift shop, museum and playground. You can also purchase your tickets for the bridge there.
The Olive tree of Vouves is an a gorgeous tree I had the pleasure of visiting when in Crete. It’s located in the village of Ano Vouves in the Chania region. It is one of the oldest olive trees in the world, and it still bears fruit. The true age of the tree can’t be determined but tree ring analysis ages it to at least 2,000 years old, however locals claim it’s between 4,000 – 5,000 years. Either way it’s a gorgeous and worth the trip if you’re interested in going out and exploring rural Crete. The tree has a girth of about 41 feet and a diameter of 15 feet.
Besides the tree there’s a museum in a quaint 19th century edifice, you can visit that houses traditional olive making tools, the courtyard the tree is housed in is surrounded by other olive making tools or presses and random stuff.
The most impressive is the tree itself. Crete has been inhabited since forever, and olives have been a staple food product for ages. Having the opportunity to sit for a few moments with a living piece of antiquity is something to behold.
The peaceful surroundings and landscape is an ideal place to sit and ponder the history this tree has “seen”.
A while back…May 2014, I had the pleasure of taking a “girls trip” or “Mommy Get-Away” with some friends. My husband was recently returned home from a sixth month deployment and I was overdue for a little “girl time”. We set off from the Venice Treviso airport on Mother’s Day for a short flight into the Chania region (Chania International Airport) of Crete. Renting a car was easy, though slow going. We stayed in Kastelli, Kissamos, in a picturesque apartment/resort, where each night the Mediterranean sea sung us it’s perfect lullaby. Although May is the off season, I thought it was a great time of year to visit this Grecian Island, because it afforded us more time with locals who were very welcoming and kind and lots of wide open space.
We arrived in late in the afternoon, and enjoyed our first sunset. It was spectacular.
Being the book nerd I am, I couldn’t help but think of King Minos, his Minotaur and those many tributes from Athens, and though I found no labyrinth, I had a new appreciation and understanding as to why King Minos demanded tributes…
My first meal, a mojito and Greek Salad.
On Our first full day, we set off to explore some of the beaches of Kissamos.
Falassarna is a popular beach for tourists and locals during the summer months and because of the wind, it’s a great place to wind surf.
When we finally made it down we discovered it was deserted. (Another perk of the off season).
While my friends worked on their tans, I sat beneath an umbrella, where I had my pick of umbrella and chair for €10,00.
It was a windy day, which is not uncommon for this beach.
After working up an appetite, we dined at Taverna Mouraki. Where we enjoyed this amazing view, and a free desert.
We closed out our first full day, back at our resort with this sunset.
Tomorrow I’ll share, a tale about a 5,000 year old olive tree.
It’s hard to believe nearly three years have come and gone since my family and I moved to Italy. We’ve just over a year left and though I’m excited for our next adventure there is a very big part of me that will be sad to say “Arrivaderci” when the time comes. Over the next year, I will be sharing all the little things I love about living in Italy (and perhaps some of the things I don’t.) because living in a foreign country as opposed to visiting one on vacation allows one a rather unique perspective.
In years to come, when I think of Italy, I’ll think of their amazing coffee. It truly is a major part of the makeup of this land. Coffee bars, cafes, and even vending machines can all provide a delicious cup of caffeinated dreaminess.
The quintessential cappuccino, sprinkled generously with unsweetened chocolate or as it’s often referred to “cacao” Is one of my most favorite things about Italy.
I don’t think I’ve traveled, or toured, or simply experienced any place more aware of art. Everywhere you go, even in the most humble of places there is some form of art, or at the very least a beautiful natural landscape. Italians enjoy beauty, and even when they don’t mean to, they make things beautiful. From the way they package gifts you buy, or box sweets from a bakery, or go for a picnic. Which isn’t how you or I would. No, these can be large affairs full of multiple course meals, and of course wine and things to beautify a picnic table…
I encountered this simple flower bouquet at a park one summer afternoon, a previous visitor, had left it to be enjoyed by the next person to dine.
I’d be remiss if I were mentioning coffee, to not remark about gelato. Gelato is delightful any time of year, but especially in the summer months. When I visit my local gelateria, I may, take home one of these other – non “ice cream” deserts. My favorite – the meregata. If you’ve ever the chance to try this desert. Go for it! It’s meringue, whipped cream, and a fruit, usually a berry. Yum!
Italian deserts, aren’t they pretty?
All of these photos were shared on my Instagram– follow me!
A few weeks ago my family and I took a day trip to Slovenia to tour the Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle in Slovenia.
According to our tour guide, Postojna Cave is the “best-known cave in the world”. If the amount of people touring the grounds and enjoying the shops and restaurants surrounding the cave on the day we visited is an indication of this fact, I would have to concur. When you enter in the summer as I did your immediately struck by it’s temperature which runs about 50 degrees year long. If traveling during the summer bring a light jacket. If you forget one the cave does offer cloaks for rent.
The cave boasts 24 kilometers or about 15 miles of underground caverns and galleries of stalactites and stalagmites. Your tour, lasts about 90 minutes and allows you to view five kilometers of the cave. Entering the cave itself is much like entering another world. I couldn’t help but think of Jules Verne’s, Journey to the Center of the Earth. The first portion of the tour takes place via the world’s only double track railway system within a cave. This railway carries you in part of the way. The guided walking tour takes up much of your time, and allows for and up close view of some of the most beautiful formations. Please keep in mind that you shouldn’t touch any of the rocks. The path is paved, but the cement can be slippery at times, as the climate inside the cave is damp and humid. The path consists of various inclines, some at times can be steep. Your tour guide will explain part of the history of the cave, and it’s hard to imagine that humans were able to enjoy this cave, and even build a bridge (pictured below).
The tours are offered in a variety of languages. Be prepared to wait in lines to purchase tickets and upon entering the cave for the tour.
Predjama Castle is nine kilometers away from the Cave, nestled in the village of Predjama and it is a Guinness World Record holder for being the largest cave castle in the world. It was a fun building to explore, imagining how life was when it was inhabited and all the things that may have occurred. This is definitely not Cinderella’s castle, it is medieval, and beautiful, and really offers you a perspective on how it’s inhabitants lived. The history of the castle and the people who called it home is quite fascinating. The architecture – an actual castle built into a cave -is impressive to say the least especially when one considers how the “man-made” blends seamlessly into the natural. The surrounding area is very picturesque and looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. The castle itself is very interesting. When visiting the castle be prepared to climb stair cases that can be steep with steps that require you to use those leg muscles.
Europe is freckled with castles and caves, in all sorts of places, these are among the most unique.
There are a variety of experiences possible from the simple like we did to adventures for the “adrenaline junkie”. More info can be found about the cave, castle, and accommodations, and other information at: www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/