Siena, Florence and Cinque Terre


>;;Oops I’ve neglected my blog for a bit!
After Rome, we travelled to Siena and Florence, where I’ve been before but was just as enchanted the 2nd time. As a last minute decision we changed our accommodation and decided to stay at the Busabout drop off point, which was a camping park about 3 km out of Siena. This turned out to be a good decision as we had our own little cabin with a fridge and a wonderful pool to wallow in. A bus trip to Siena saw us exploring the town and ( of course) lots of hills and steps to climb, plus the mandatory gelato!
Florence seemed more beautiful than last time I saw it but much hotter. We haven’t s a cloud or a day much less than 35 degrees for weeks now. With the heat in mind, we a more gelato and climbed up the Biblio gardens and walked around the town, with one day spent in Ufizzi gallery looking at art work by the masters.
Our trip from Florence to Cinque Terre (where we stay for a week) included a photo stop at Pisa and a competition to see who could take the most clever photo. The handstand won but ours got an honourable mention:)
Our accommodation in Cinque Terre, where we stay for 6 nights, is at Riomaggiore, the first of the 5 cliff hanger Italian villages on the coast. I can’t even begin to describe the trip to our accommodation. Our backpacks are now HEAVY, and there so many steps and ridiculous narrow dangerous paths which have to be seen to be believed. When we found our accommodation ( in a narrow back alley) there is a door, 2 flights of stairs and the key is in a little basket ( which the owner called a jar) . The light kept going off and plunging us into darkness but we managed to get our bags up, the door unlocked and into the building. The accommodation is gorgeous with a kitchen on the bottom floor, a spiral staircase which is about 50cm wide takes us to the next floor to Sophie’s room and the bath room, and up another spiral staircase to my room at the top (5th floor in total). I have a window and a double door which opens out to the sea and a view of the village. It’s spectacular!!!! I haven’t closed the door once so far and go to sleep to the sound of the sea and with the breeze drifting in, mind you, it’s still very very hot all night.
Sophie, on the other hand, has a window which opens onto a neighbours balcony where an Italian family frolic noisily. Complete with Mama, Papa, Nona, a singing Grandfather and a toddler with a very high squeal who party on the balcony til all hours. There are no fans or air con so the decision is always is to be hot or to have the noise. This is often the case when travelling Europe. . I did offer to swap rooms but don’t think I sounded very convincing.
All that aside, the villages are gorgeous and the views are breathtaking. Last night we walked along Via del Amore, which is the coastal path of ‘love’ across the top of the cliffs to Manarola and saw the sun set and many tourists drunk with love during our walk, ending it with a gelato. Today we are going to hike across a couple of other very steep trails in the peak of heat and catch a train back I’m sure it will be worth it as it is a wold famous walking path and apparently spectacular.
Wifi is like hens teeth here so Barcelona will probably be the next posting. After 7 weeks of travelling and one left, I will return home to Melbournes winter and Sophie will go to the USA. *sigh*,
If you use Instagram, my photos are mostly there… User name jennywood
The train photos are for my Dad:)







Running with pizza


What is the definition of an optimist? The 5000th Roman hat seller for the day asking if I want to buy a hat when I have one on my head!
Our day in Pompeii and Naples began by a 6.45 pick up from our hotel in Rome. In true Italian style, we were shunted around from bus to bus and to several hosts and ended up in Naples with a small Italian man who barely spoke English and addressed his commentary quietly to one person in the group while the rest of us strained to hear and the children became restless. Apart from getting the giggles and nodding and smiling at what we hoped was the right places we discovered that nobody else could understand him either. Even so, we were whisked around Naples in 45 minutes and I have no idea what anything was apart from the ‘ mermaids’ he promised to show us on the beach…. The mermaids turned out to be a pile of enormous rocks with Italian men perched on them in their speedos sunbathing! At least he had a sense of humour. Naples seemed to have a few lovely historic buildings, scattered amongst the squalor and rubbish which spread for many kilometres towards Pompeii. It was a little reminiscent of Cairo, with it’s high density housing with washing hanging out the windows.
After a visit to the cameo making factory and lunch, we arrived at Pompeii in time for the the peak of afternoon heat and explored the wonderful city and all of the amazing relics. It was incredible to be scrambling over a 2000 year old city and see the condition to which it has been preserved in.
We arrived back at Rome at 9.30 pm, very tired but with the knowledge that we had to move camp to Siena early the next morning. Our bus stop at Orvieto was eventful as we all caught the fernicula up the mountain to the village and ordered a late breakfast. Sophie and I got a very slow chef and we ended up having to run back to the meeting point as we were late, with a pizza folded in half in a paper bag! Running across cobblestones with pizza in hand for 15 minutes in the heat was not a pretty sight I’m sure but I’m not sure how we would have got to Siena had we been left behind.
On arrival at Siena we made a snap decision to stay at the Busabout drop off joint and cancel our hotel. Ahhh! A swimming pool, refrigerator in our cabin and peace and quiet. We didn’t go into Siena on our first day but sat around the pool and outside our cabin reading in the cool (ish) air. Tomorrow we will go explore… or ‘re explore’ in my case!
2 weeks to go but lots of adventures to be had. We are looking forward to a rest in Cinque Terre providing the “key in the little jar by the door” can be found, as described by the Italian woman who owns the flat, but doesn’t live there. Hmmm. That could be interesting.




Venice to Rome


Our time in Venice was enhanced by staying with my Twitter friend @monicacassaro who owns a B&B there. Monica and Chris made us very welcome and gave us the ‘home away from home’ treatment which was really appreciated. The B &B is not on the island part so we had to walk and catch a bus each morning which gave us the opportunity to experience real Italy, including a kind man who was pruning a plum tree and threw some to us. Or perhaps he was throwing them at us?
We spent our two days walking the islands and hopping on and off the water buses from island to island, choosing not to have a gondola ride and save ourselves the $$. The weather was HOT and in the 30s so the days were long and tiring.
Our trip to Rome was on a 40 degree day and a. 10.5 hour journey which felt more like a rest for us weary travellers. We arrived at our ‘ hotel’ to find varying degrees of European hotel discomfort. The rooms are less than 3 meters long not as wide and HOT so we chose to pay the extra for air con except that my air con doesnt work and Sophie’s does. The rooms are also extremely noisy but earplugs muffle it nicely. Trip advisor will have a nice long spiel for this one. Not that we are princesses at all but this one is beyond a joke and we are here for 5 days. It’s the first ‘ separate rooms’ we have had for weeks so it feels quite odd. Nobody from Melbourne cares about our hot rooms of course, since they are all suffering in the cold at home, but I’m playing my own violin here!
The next 2 days were 38+C and we had ‘ hip on hop off bus’ tickets for 2 days so there we were on the top of the open buses in the direct sun and heat getting sizzled. This morning Sophie had a tumble down the stairs and bruised herself badly and we are both sunburnt but all the same we are having an AWESOME time and really loving Rome. When I was in Rome in 2009 I had jetlag and I think I didn’t appreciate it very well.
We are eating so much gelato its become the new vegetable replacement. Who needs veges?
Tomorrow we are off to Pompeii and Naples for a day trip so it’s an early night for us!



Stand by for the travel journal

picture-4-copyWe have all been bored before by travel photos. Now is your chance to bored by a travel blog!

On the 5th of June we will be traveling through Italy, France and England for 6 weeks. I will update the blog/Facebook/Twitter whenever I get the chance on my cute little PC. Of COURSE… I am taking it with me!

It is our second overseas trip… but we won’t be on a tour this time so its going to be VERY different for us to the last one. We will be taking trains around Italy and driving (hopefully on the correct side of the road) around France and England. Starting in Rome and ending in Cornwall where my Nan and my Great Gran (from the other side) are from.

And while we are away… Sophie won a travel scholarship (go Sophie!) to China where she will do her placement for 2 weeks and then spend one week ‘living it up’. She leaves on the 13th of June just after us and return before us.

View a larger map of our trip here

Here is our itinerary:


6th, 7th, 8th and 9th of June: Rome, Italy

10th of June: Siena, Italy

11th,12th, 13th of June: Florence, Italy

14th, 15th, 16th of June: Venice, Italy

17th June: San Remo, Italy (Col almost booked accommodation at the one near Phillip Island LOL)



18th &19th  June: Marseille, France

20th June: Orange, France

21st-27th June: Tignes, France (French Alps)- we will ‘pop’ over to Switzerland for a day or 2 from here

28th June: Lyon France

29th, 30th, 1st & 2nd July: Paris, France (including cycling trip to Versailles Palace for a day)



3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th July: London, UK (staying with her majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace)

7th-13th July: Marazion, Cornwall, UK

14th July: Plymouth, UK

14th & 15th July: Bath, UK (great to have a bath at last after all that time traveling)

16th July: Return to Melbourne- arriving 18th July

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