Page 6 of TheMcNamaras Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Venice June 27th 2011

Don't you love feeling as though you're being naughty, even when you're not? I crept out of our hotel room just after 5am this morning with the family still asleep, and hopped on the nearest vaporetto to Piazza San Marco, camera in hand, hoping for a glimpse of the square sans thousands. The Grand Canal was beautiful again in the morning light, and I couldn't stop snapping the gorgeous canal-side buildings with gondolas or motorboats moored in front. No-one else on the vaporetto seemed interested in standing outside, so I had the bow of the boat to myself and I enjoyed the peace. It only took 20 minutes to walk home from Piazza san Marco, but the vaporetto wound it's way there along the grand canal over about 40 minutes. A small army of men was ... read more
Gondola station, Piazza San Marco
Not quite a traffic jam
Just me and the broom guy, Piazza San Marco 6.15am

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Venice June 26th 2011

I don't care what anyone says about gondolas being a Venice cliche, expensive, or that you should just ride the Traghetti instead: There is nothing like your first sighting of a gondola on the Grand Canal in the late afternoon. Ignoring all advice from guide books to the contrary, we decided to drive into Venice and park at Garage San Marco. Silvia sussed it all out for us on her computer and we decided it was worth the risk! It was hard to say good-bye to Silvia and the children after their fantastic hospitality, but we look forward to catching up with the whole family when they return to Melbourne. As it happened, parking was easy as pie, not especially expensive, and we were able to WALK to our hotel! Perfect. Well, there WAS a small ... read more
Isabel was in love with the 4-poster bed
Looking across to San Marco from Punta della Dogana
The family, Osteria ai Sconte

Europe » Italy » Emilia-Romagna » Cervia June 25th 2011

I don't think we even drove an hour today before the scenery changed dramatically. As we headed towards the mountains, the trees turned to firs, and the fields were green rather than the golden, Van Gogh-like ploughed fields we'd been used to in Tuscany. We drove over the alps and onward towards Venice, happy that we didn't have to rely on road signs to get us where we needed to go. We didn't see a sign for Cervia until we were in it! Silvia had suggested that we stop off at a few towns on the way, but we were actually keen to spend as much time as possible with her family, so we just drove non-stop to Cervia - a pretty easy drive along freeways, especially compared with the roads we'd negotiated in Tuscany. As ... read more
The kids, Cervia
Here we are in Cervia!
The passing Parade, Cervia

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Asciano June 24th 2011

I had visions of visiting Cortona (where Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet was filmed) and taking a drive through Chianti today, but about as far as we got was Asciano for an ice-cream. We think it's probably the best pistachio in Italy, so we were able to convince the children to get into the car again with the promise that we wouldn't be walking any further than the gelato shop! It WAS hard to drag ourselves away from the pool though. Isabel and I were rewarded for our effort when we stopped in at a little boutique on the way to the gelateria. We found that Roman green suits us nearly as well as it did the Roman women. ( I shouldn't have bothered traipsing around Florence for an hour yesterday.......) I am not quite ready to ... read more
Asciano gelato - the best pistachio in Italy!
The girls, gelato in Asciano
Imogen Asciano gelato

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence June 23rd 2011

Hugo has discovered the pleasures of an i-pod. This morning on the drive to Florence he sang along to the Beatles, Eric Clapton and his random favourite: "Summer of 69". We were determined to be early today, as we had seen the queue to the Duomo snaking around the block on Tuesday and weren't keen for that experience. We set an alarm (!), got up and flew out the door, with the intention of stopping for pastries, juice and coffee in Asciano town on our way. I am always a little shocked to see men sitting at tables outside the cafes, drinking wine, at all times of the day. I must say I imagine their wives at home, juggling cooking, washing and children while the men sit relaxing. Anyway, apparently wine with breakfast isn't all that ... read more
Half-way up
The Dome as seen from the big climb!
Worth the climb

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Montepulciano June 22nd 2011

We made it to Montepulciano just in time for a late lunch today. After our big day in Florence, no-one felt much like revving up early. Don't tell, but as we got up so late and it was SOOO hot, we stopped and had ice-cream for breakfast in Asciano on the way! Montepulciano reminded me a little of San Gimignano, but felt a bit less touristy and was certainly quieter. I felt like we had earned lunch after parking the car and making our way up the steep, winding little streets and stairs to meet Steve and Astrid, who had been exploring for a while by the time we got there and were starving. We hit on yet another good restaurant and enjoyed fantastic pasta with mushroom and truffle ragu while sitting outside under vines and ... read more
Trattoria di Cagnano, Montepulciano
The famous fish steamer
Montepulciano from the car park.

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence June 21st 2011

Heading to Florence can be a bit daunting. There is so much to see, and stories of 3 hour waits to enter the Uffizi gallery are a bit scary, especially with lots of children in tow! Last night Steve and I searched the Internet for reservations at the gallery, but found it all quite confusing. After he had gone to bed, I stumbled on a site called "Friends of Uffizi", an association set up after the terrorist bombing some years ago. One of the benefits of joining appeared to be free multiple entry to a huge number of galleries and museums in Florence, WITHOUT RESERVATION OR BOOKING! Could it be true? They even had a family membership! Well, it was. I paid on Paypal, turned up this morning with the family and was ushered past the ... read more
Family at the Uffizi
Vasari corridor and Ponte Vecchio from the top floor of the Uffizi Gallery
View over Florence from Boboli Gardens

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena June 20th 2011

I had never seen a real bumble bee until I came to Tuscany. They are everywhere in the Lavender beside the villa - the biggest, fattest bees ever, and so pretty but too fast to photograph so far. The children spend lots of peaceful time watching them work, or chasing dragonflies. Last night we saw frogs jumping around in the garden, and this morning one had found it's way into the pool so there was great excitement as we got to have a closer look. Our mission today was Siena. Originally we had thought of coming to Tuscany for Il Palio - a horse race held on July 2nd in the Piazza del Campo. Now that we are here, I'm almost glad we are too early for it - we would have expired in the heat ... read more
Shoulder ride Piazza del Campo
Gelato anyone?
Old Siena from the car park

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » San Gimignano June 19th 2011

It is cooler in the mornings and evenings here in the hills. It doesn't stay cool for long though! We opened the heavy wooden shutters and doors this morning to brilliant sunshine. I like the design of the shutters - no light at all makes its way through them and we are free to sleep until we are ready to wake up. The plan to drive to San Gimignano for the day got us all moving again, and we set off for the hilltop village, which is about 30 minutes from Asciano if you drive like an Italian. We didn't, and arrived alive 45 minutes after setting off. Whatever the i-pad lacks in photo uploading ability, it is great when it comes to maps. Astrid and Steve met us in Asciano about an hour after we ... read more
Salumeria, San Gimignano
Through the secret archway
The boys and the knight

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Asciano June 18th 2011

The children were in heaven in the pool while we packed up the campsite and cabin this morning. The skies have been nothing but blue since our first day in Rome, and it is just so hot that the pool is the best place to be! We drove away from Sorrento on that narrow road that had seemed incredibly scary at night. Today it was just beautiful - nothing menacing about it except the scooters that kept coming at us head-on, then darting back into the line of traffic at the last minute. Suicide mission. We decided to break our long drive to Tuscany at a spot called "Villa D'Este", just North of Rome. I had heard it had wonderful fountains, and in this heat, any water is good! The cherries and peaches are so good ... read more
View from the terrace, Villa D'Este
Villa D'Este
Our Tuscan Villa

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