Joan Higbee


Joan Higbee

All who wander are not lost.
Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry. Jack Kerouac

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Venice September 11th 2018

This morning we went on a two hour walk with Katerina, our local guide, who was extremely knowledgeable of Venetian history. We saw laundry boats and all kinds of deliveries being made, making it easy to see why it’s expensive to live here. We paused under the window of an elderly woman who is not usually kind to tour groups which stop under her windows. She waters her plants on them or has been known to sprinkle breadcrumbs on them. Katerina explained that Venice’s population has been shrinking since the 1500’s when there were 200,000 people living here to 53,000 today. Two thirds are between the ages of 75 and 100. They are losing population at the rate of about 1000 per year. Many people are using homes as air b’n b’s or if they are ... read more
Fresh pasta

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Venice September 10th 2018

Today was a picture post-card day almost all day and I was lucky enough to be in the front seat of the bus! We left Bolzano just as the commuters were arriving to work in the cable cars from up on the mountain. We drove north, virtually to the Austrian border through the Dolomites, the Italian Alps. The peaks are jagged massive rock faces. There is already snow on the highest ones. We stopped for a rest stop in Miraluna on a perfect lake ringed by mountains. Then we stopped for an enormous and delicious meal in an old mountain town. After lunch, we made our way down the mountains to sea level and Venice. Off the bus and into water taxis to the hotel which is located on the Della Guidecca canal. Igor took us ... read more
Town where we stopped for lunch
Venice scene
Venice canal with gondolier near sunset

Europe » Italy » Trentino Alto Adige » Bolzano September 9th 2018

We once had an exchange student for a brief weekend visit and he was from Bolzano. He said it was a beautiful city in the Italian Alps that not many people outside Italy know about. It is Tyrolean in character and totally bilingual-German and Italian. It is in the area that was ceded to Italy from Austria after WW I, then treated very badly during Mussolini’s rule. After WW II Italy tried to heal the wounds and unite this area, but it is very independent and would like to secede. In the morning we took a cable car up the mountain to Sopranolzano/OberBolzen. It is hard to describe the exquisite beauty of the day we had. The fog lifted from the mountaintops revealing clear views of the craggy Dolomites. The meadows under the cable car were ... read more
Cable car arriving at the top
0tzi -model of 5300 year old man in Museo Archeological dell’Alto Adige
Bolzano town hall

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Verona September 8th 2018

Sadly this morning we said farewell to Florence and headed north. Our destination for the day is Verona on the way to the Dolomites, part of the Alps. Igor is very good about comfort stops which are on the highways much like rest stops in the US. However the coffee bars are distinctly Italian. You go to the cash desk to pay and then at the bar you present your receipt and reorder your drink. If the comfort stop is crowded the coffee bar is mobbed. At one such stop some of us ladies were ushered into the gents' along with the gents. Crazy! Arriving in Verona, we met our guide and proceeded across the bridge through the grounds of the Medici palace. Verona has Roman antecedents and the Roman amphitheatre is today a working opera ... read more
professions of love on the walls of Capulet courtyard
Buildings of former Jewish ghetto on Piazza del Erbe
Fellow diners on the Piazz del Erbe

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena September 7th 2018

We left Florence early to drive through the beautiful Tuscan countryside to the walled city on a hill that is Siena. The typical Italian houses with red tile roofs dot the hills. At one of the gates in what seems like a bustling town if you gauge the traffic traveling In around it. Our guide Camilla was a lot of fun. She is s long time resident and obviously loves living there. We walked up to the Duomo, one of the most beautiful inside and out. The outside is striking with its alternating Black and white stripes and its highly decorated facade with sculptures all over. But inside, not an inch is left undecorated. The floor is covered with marble inlay scenes. The vaulted ceiling is covered with Biblical scenes. We went into a library, where ... read more
Costumes worn by the Forest jockey in recent years
inside the Duomo (cathedral) in Siena

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence September 6th 2018

The whole day in Florence! If I had 9 more days here, I Might be able to do it properly. Our guide, Patrizia, met us at the hotel and we toured with her on foot through Santa Maria square, past the Medici museum, the Medici Saint Lorenzo church, through the Medici palace to the Academia where we saw the David. Seeing that statue was the only part of the day in which my 21 year old self and Today's self were one. I felt the same awe and disbelief at its beauty that I did more than 50 years ago. The rest of the day I was reminded how much more that younger body was able to do! Don't wait to come!! Patrizia gave us a three and a half hour walking tour which ended near ... read more
Michelangelo’s David
the bridges of Florence—Ponte Vecchio first
Titian’s Venus Urbino

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Lucca September 6th 2018

Today we left the gorgeous Ligurian coast and headed south and west to Lucca and then on to Florence. We spent most of the day in Lucca, a walled medieval town, although its first walls were built in Roman times. In 56 B.C. Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus agreed to rule Rome as a triumvirate. It is known for its towers, one of which is very prominent today because it has trees growing from its top. The towers were built by the rich of the town on their palaces and the town was a republic and didn't want any one to get ahead of their neighbors--so they limited the height and the plantings were a way around the limit. Lucca has over 80 churches, many of which are not used as churches any more. One such building ... read more
Lucca—San Michele Catedral
Florence-the Duomo at night
windows with candle holders for Feste San Croce—Lucca

Europe » Italy » Liguria » Cinque Terre September 4th 2018

Weather in Italy--Mamma Mia! Today's forecast for the Cinque Terre area in Liguria was rain and more rain. So we dejectedly packed rain jackets and umbrellas since we got soaked yesterday (sunny forecast). By the time we got off the train in Monterosso al Mare we were shedding jackets. Never did need the umbrella! What a gorgeous day! The expression in Today's title is what Igor says about someone who's done something good. So mine is for the weatherman who never gets it right. After a look around Monterosso, the first town of the five, we boarded a boat for Vernazza, one of the most beautiful. From the sea, the towns are most charming. The sea color is a deep almost cobalt blue, and the brightly colored houses of the towns cluster what almost seems to ... read more
focaccia lunch in Vernazza
From the Ferry -Cinque Terre
Portovenere harbor

Europe » Italy » Liguria » Santa Margherita Ligure September 3rd 2018

Weather in Italy!! Mamma mia!! That's what Igor, our tour director says, and today he was right! We started out early and toured the lovely town, with Igor pointing out the important places like restaurants, pharmacies, churches, enoteca(wine store), etc . We were heading to the ferry for Portofino. While Igor arranged the tickets, Allan, our art historian, proceeded to conduct a chalk talk on the sidewalk nearby. He taught us some basic architecture principles--regarding types of arches, Roman, Gothic, extensions of principles of the distribution of loads to domes and buildings with flying buttresses and stained glass windows. Then we got on the ferry for a short ride to the little gem which is Portofino, not named for a fine port, but for little dolphins. Portofino's small harbor is surrounded by shops of just about ... read more
Portofino from St. George church piazza
lunch stop in Portofino
Pasticceria choices

Europe » Italy » Piedmont September 2nd 2018

This morning was a beautiful, clear and sparkling day on Lake Maggiore. It was hard to think about leaving. Last night we hung out on the rooftop, drinking a little wine, watching the sunset all around the Lake. It is a stunning place! Before we leave the Lake District I have a quiz for my readers. What do you think this part of the bathroom fixture is for? See photo. The Hotel de Palma was renovated in recent times and it is modern and lovely. We boarded a bus and headed South, driving through wine country with hillsides terraced with vineyards and topped by medieval towns. Our destination was Barolo, a town that is not even on most maps, but is home to a great Italian wine producer of the same name. We had a tour ... read more
Sunset across Lake Maggiore
Medieval hill town near Barolo
View from Hotel Metropole balcony

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