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September 1st 2011
Published: September 5th 2011
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Apologies folks - we have been off-line for a couple of days, but we now have a vodafone broadband stick and are ready to roll.

We are staying in the northern Italian city of Portogruaro with our Italian family, Perina, Prego and their son Diego. Perina is my father John's second cousin. The Santaliana family have been extremely welcoming and have kept us very busy visiting many destinations. All of them with an extensive history and story so well explained by Diego our guide and interpreter.

On Sunday evening we visited Portogruaro's historic city centre and mingled with the locals. Like so many Italian cities, the city centre area has a character and intimacy that draws the local community into to the centre to meet, eat, drink and socialise. So many people get around on bicycles here, especially the elderly who seem very healthy and full of life compared to their Kiwi counterparts.

On Monday morning Perina took us to see the Roman ruins at Concordia. The site at Concordia contains statues, tomb inscriptions and mosaics. The footings of ruined Roman buildings can be seen all around the church and baptistery. In the afternoon Diego took us to see a number of sites including the Sestoal Al Reghena Monastery, San Pietro Church and Stalis' Mills. The San Pietro Church by Portogruaro was formerly a place for Pagan worship.

We visited Perina's 99 year old mother, Giulia, at the family farm in the evening and had a very special time talking with her.

On Tuesday we went back to the city centre and visited the Archological Museum of Portogruaro and the Peasant's Museum in Belfiore. In the evening we visited the amazing city of Verona and attended an opera, La Boheme, in the Arena. The Arena is Verona's amphitheatre, completed around AD 30, it is the third largest in the world. In years gone by people came from across the Veneto region to watch battles and gladiatorial combat at the Arena in Verona.

On Wednesday morning Perina took us to a local mall for a spot of shopping. Daphne was busy buying gifts for friends and family. It was a very good effort on her part because Daph hates shopping. Lucky me! One thing can be said for the Italian's, they have style! The clothes, sun glasses, cars, houses and food all exude style and finesse. In the afternoon Diego took us into the 'sticks' to the lagoon near Portogruaro where thatched holiday homes fronting the lagoon have stood for 500 years. We then visited the sea-side holiday town of Carle for a leisurely drink and a taste of the local sea food. Carle has beautifully vibrant painted buildings with narrow intimate streets that only allow pedestrians and bicycles access to the town centre.

Thursday - today we visited Villa Manin in Codroipo, one of the greatest examples of Venetian villas in the region. The Villa Manin was home to the last Doge of Venice (the ruler) and was constructed between the 17th & 18th century. Napoleon Bonaparte stayed here for two months; during the First World War it was also a meeting place for the Austrian and German Emperors. Prego tells me that Napoleon tried to sell the Vento Region to the Austrians in a meeting at the villa.

Daph and I are taking a train to Rome for a 3 day visit tomorrow (Friday). Dad is staying home in Portogruaro for some R&R before we head off for a two day trip to Venice with Perina, Prego and Diego next Tuesday and Wednesday. Prego has arranged accommodation in Venice, including breakfast, for 20 Euro! Thank goodness for local knowledge!

Daph and I are travelling light to Rome, so no netbook. Will blog next Monday and fill you in on our adventure to Rome.

Arrivederci and Ciao for now :-)

Additional photos below
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6th September 2011

Hi mum and dad
Hi mom and dad looks like you are haveing a grate time I am am too with Anty Caroline and others. Mising you xxx
6th September 2011

Mum & Dad
Thank you for the message son, Mum and Dad miss you to. Having a fun time in Italy. Very hot, over 30 degees C. We travel to Venice tomorrow for two days of sight seeing. Work hard and we will see you soon. Love Mum & Dad
7th September 2011

Hey guys, great to hear you are having such a fabulous trip!!! So Jealous!!! Corbyn and Sean had a play date on Saturday so have been keeping each other company while you are away. Wish we were there:-) It\'s great hearing about your amazing adventures so will keep following your blog. Take Care Dan & Kerry
17th September 2011

Belated reply sorry!
Hey guys gr8t to hear from you all. We are so sorry it has taken sooo long to reply. It has been a matter of finding the time to blog when you are not sight seeing or sleeping. I have taken over the blogging from jono and it has been more of a summarising to catchup. we would loved to have put more pics in but there is way 2 many and finer details of the trip will take too long. Lovely to hear from you, take care and we will see you at home. Daph

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