Julie-Ann

JulieAnn B

Julie-Ann




Europe » United Kingdom » England » Essex » Stansted Mountfitchet September 21st 2019

Friday was our last day in Italy and a day for repacking and taking in the final views of the Tuscan hillsides and olive trees ringing the villa. At 7:30am on Saturday morning we had an early transfer to Rome Airport for our flights to London and Hong Kong. The journey was almost all highway, taking 3 hours including a short rest stop. We were able to enjoy our last views of the Tuscan and Umbrian countryside as we whizzed along the highway at about 140km per hour. Our flight to London was late arriving and leaving but we landed almost on time and would have been back on schedule, had it not been for the lack of ground staff and an aerobridge to help us off the plane! We were met in the Arrivals Hall ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Bucine September 19th 2019

All the tours we had organised have now finished so today is a day for relaxing around the villa and the village of Bucine. Shelley and I walked into the village, through the vineyards surrounding the villa. Harvest time is next month (October) so all the grapevines are loaded with bunches of dark purple grapes. The afternoon was spend reading by the pool, chatting and having a spa in the spa room which has big sliding doors looking across the valley. Our villa host Jois (pronounced Joyce) offers the option of a dinner here at the villa, cooked by his cleaner/chef Maria. We all decided it would be a nice thing to have a group dinner so chose tonight as the best night. We were given a large menu, from which to choose either 1 or ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena September 18th 2019

Today was another 8:30am pickup from our villa in Bucine for our visit to the hilltop towns of Siena and San Gimignano. Both have a lot of buildings made of red brick, a characteristic of medieval (rather than Renaissance) towns. Siena is a university town with a university hospital doing a lot of oncology research. The town was built on the Via Cassia, the second oldest Roman road built by the Cassius. As we were driving into the city centre, we saw it was market day so we stopped for an hour to have a coffee, look at the Basilica Cateriniana di San Dominico and then mooch around the markets for a while. These were local markets, so as well as the usual tourist souvenir junk, they had everything for the locals like underwear, clothes, jeans, ... read more
190918 3 Basilica Cateriniana
190918 4 Basilica Cateriniana & Siena Basilica
190918 5 Siena markets

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Bucine September 17th 2019

Silvia picked us up at 8:40am at Bucine and we drove for 2 hours for our first stop at the Martelli Pasta Factory in Lari. We were able to view the pasta being made and hear how hard pasta, made from semolina, is the easiest to digest. The pasta is extruded through bronze dies to make the pasta, which is rough in order for the sauce to cling to it. From Lari, we drove to Pisa where we looked at the leaning tower. Photos do not do the angle of the lean justice. After Pisa, we drove to Lucca and did a 2 hour walking tour with a guide from by the local tourist information centre. Lucca is a walled city, where the medieval wall is 4km in circumference and 12m in width. Moats were on ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Bucine September 16th 2019

Sunday was a rest day after the full day of travelling up to the villa on Saturday. I spent it wandering around the villa, sitting by the pool and reading and having a spa in the spa house, which has beautiful views across the valley. At 9am on Monday, Silvia from Tuscany Private Tours picked us up from our villa Bucine for a day trip through Chianto. Our first stop was in Greve, where we stopped in the market square and had a coffee and wander around. The black rooster is the symbol of the Chianti region and used to symbolise an accredited Chianti wine. Chianti has to be a minimum of 80% Sangiovese grapes and the other 20% can be any other mix of red wine. Chianti Classico has to be aged for 6 months ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Campania » Capri September 12th 2019

This morning, Paula, Sharon and I took a taxi to Sorrento Port for our ‘Capri and Blue Grotto Day Tour’ from Sorrento by Raphael Tours. We met our guide Luciana at 8:10am and then caught a high speed jetfoil ferry across to Capri. At Marina Grande, the main port of the Capri, we got on small buses for the trip up the ‘Mamma Mia’ road to Anacapri (meaning upper Capri). We walked to a viewing area, where we had wonderful views back across the Bay of Naples… This was also where the Phoenician Staircase came up, the set of almost 900 stairs from the port up to the summit. At Anacapri, we caught a chair lift up to the top – the views from the lift and at the top were amazing. After this, we caught ... read more
190912 3 Sorrento port
190912 6 Mama Mia Rd
190912 6b Marina Grande

Europe » Italy » Campania » Pompei September 11th 2019

Ilaria and Antonia picked us up at 8am for our journey to Pompeii. Pompeii had been a port town in ancient times and was destroyed progressively over about 3 days of volcanic action. We went past the ancient rock tombs and into the theatre, bathhouse, House of Menander, brothel and city square. After a 20 minute drive, we arrived at Sorrentino winery for lunch. We had courses with matching wines, starting with a sparkling white wine, then an antipasto platter with a flat white, a light red and then a heavier red with spaghetti with Napoletano sauce and dessert was a pound cake with apricot sauce. Herculaneum was a short drive and had been destroyed quickly in a cataclysmic eruption, where the town was buried with mud and lava. As we approached the entrance, we could ... read more
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190911 8 Pompeii street
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Europe » Italy September 9th 2019

Today our guide Ilaria and our driver met us at 8:15am for our Amalfi Coast tour. We left Massa Lubrense and drove through Sorrento to Positano, where we parked and walked down the winding path to the beach. After this, we continued to the seaside town of Amalfi, where we had lunch. Ravello, an inland village, was our last stop before we returned through Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento to Massa Lubrense. The road looked down over Sorrento, giving beautiful views of Sorrento, the Bay of Naples and in the distance, Naples and Vesuvius.... read more
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Europe » Italy » Campania » Massa Lubrense September 8th 2019

Today was a rest day so we walked down to the water and along the coastal path into Marina della Lobra, where we explored the restaurants and mini-markets. The rest of the day was spent at the villa, relaxing and looking at the view.... read more
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190908 05 Marina della Lobra

Europe » Italy » Campania » Massa Lubrense September 7th 2019

We checked out of the apartment in time for our 9:30am transfer to Villa Bouganville in Masse Lubrense on the Sorrento (Amalfi) Coast. Our driver Tommaso dropped us off at Villa d’Este at Tivoli for a walk around the gardens and villa. This site is on a very steep slope and all of the fountains are powered by gravity. After entry, we walked through the Courtyard into the villa, through the Cardinal’s Apartment, Hall of the Fountain and Hall of Hercules and then out onto the Gran Loggia with a view of the garden. Walking down the steps, I kept to the left and walked past the Fountain of Rometta, the Hundred Fountains and down to the Fish Ponds which are 4m deep. Other scenic spots were the Rotunda of the Cypress, Fountain of Diana of ... read more
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