A whirlwind through Italy

We have been in Italy with my sister Sonja for just over two weeks and have visited the major tourist destinations: Florence, Venice and Rome.  We even managed to squeeze in a weekend in Milan so that Sonja could run the Milan Marathon.  We did as much as humanly possible so that Sonja could see and experience everything on her bucket list. What a time we have had!  The history and architecture, the plethora of art, sculptures, churches, mosaics, tapestries – it has left us in awe. We have discovered Italian coffee – cappucino is my absolute favourite and I may never go back to drinking American coffee again.  And the gelato – divine! We have tasted what “al dente” really means and now understand why Italians think we massacre pasta in America.  The cheese and salamis and abundance of cheap but good red wine – we love it all.  Was I Italian in a former life??

This was the first time I have travelled for more than a weekend with my sister and while the pace was much more intense than what we’ve been used to these past few months, I was pleasantly surprised at how well we all travelled together.  We all seemed to be in agreement most of the time as to what to see, where to go and what to eat.  And when we didn’t agree, we were quite happy to go our separate ways for a few hours to pursue our own interests before regrouping later in the day. Amazingly, our itinerary was executed perfectly: we never missed a train, we always found our apartments, all our accommodations were better than expected, we never got lost unless it was intentional (more about that later), we never lost each other.

Everything was perfect, except, of course, the weather.  We arrived in Venice to cold temperatures (below 10C which felt freezing cold to us after spending the last two months in the tropics) and cloudy skies but at least it didn’t rain on that first day in Italy.  The rain began the next day and it rained on and off for a week! Some days were downright miserable like the day we visited Sienna and got soaked to the skin as the relentless rain turned to hail accompanied by thunder and lightening.  But then the sun came out in Venice and continued to shine right through to the end of Sonja’s visit.   I’ve been told temperatures are going to hit 30C by the weekend!

Sonja left yesterday and we have now resumed our slow travel pace.  Today is a national holiday in Italy and most things are closed so we are taking a welcome break from sightseeing.  Besides, my brain is so full right now, I don’t think I can absorb anything new, and my feet are still aching from wearing the wrong shoes for hours on end on those ancient cobblestone streets in Rome. The price of vanity I suppose.

I will now take some time to write about what we did during these past two weeks and share some of the amazing photos that have been taken.  There is so much to tell but I will try to stick to the highlights.

In the meantime, check out the latest addition to our website: the photo gallery.  After much discussion and many debates, this part of the website is finally coming together in a way that I have always envisioned it.   It can be accessed from the header image at the top of the website – it is the first item listed on the sign post – or you can access it from the left hand column, about half way down in the “Other Info” section.  We have created a Flickr account to host all our photos and we have linked our website to Flickr via a slick plugin very appropriately called “slickr flickr”.

The main purpose of the photo gallery is to showcase more of the amazing photos taken by Chris.  While the photos in the blog support the narrative text, they are a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of photos that Chris has taken. But the photo gallery offers so much more.  Chris manipulates many of his photos using a variety of techniques that transforms them into veritable works of art.  He is continuously finessing his technique and striving for the perfect shot. As his biggest fan, I am thrilled to have a forum in which to display his wonderful work.

The photo gallery is a work in progress and we’re still trying to figure out the best way to organize the photos to make them easy to access and enjoyable to view.  You’ll notice that Chris has added a watermark to his photos, also something that we’re experimenting with in terms of size and location on the photo.  The purpose of the watermark is to prevent his photos from being reproduced without his permission.  You’re free to enjoy them on-line but if you wish to print them or use them in any way, we’d appreciate hearing from you beforehand.  We’re also exploring commercial opportunities and it’s important to retain ownership of the photos in order to leverage such possibilities.

You can expect a lot more photos to be added to the gallery in the coming days and weeks. We’d love to hear your feedback on the photo gallery both in terms of how we have organized the photos as well as the content itself.


Category: Europe, Italy
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4 Responses
  1. Jolana says:

    I’ve only been to Italy once and I so now want to see more.

    Good job guys – that photo gallery is amazing!

    Between the writing and the photos – you guys are on to something really special here 🙂

  2. chris says:

    Thanks Jolana!

    Italy has been amazing indeed… so much history here… so many interesting things to photograph… it’s going to take me some time to go through (and work on) all the images I’ve been taking… I actually ran out of space on a 32GB memory card the other day, after a full day of shooting in Rome!

    Christina does a fantastic job of documenting our journey… and she’s been the driving force (and my biggest fan) in getting the ‘gallery’ section up and running… I’ve needed some prodding and convincing to get things off my hard drive, and into cyberspace!

    We put a lot of energy into the blog; its primary purpose is for the enjoyment and entertainment of our friends and family… and we’re glad it’s doing just that!

    Take care for now, and say hi to that dead-beat husband of yours for me! 🙂


  3. Patti Spearman says:

    Hi from an old Sea Spiriter! I am following your blogs avidly and particularly enjoying the info about Italy as we are going there in the fall. I was transported happily back looking at your photo gallery and reliving our adventures–wahoo!!! I just got an email from Quark announcing that they are moving the Sea Spirit up to the Arctic in the summer of 2013. We are thinking of doing the three island cruise (Spitzbergen, Greenland and Iceland) then doing some hiking in Iceland.
    Unhappily, ski season is over here and mountain hiking cannot begin until the nearly 700cm of snow melts. However, there are some great low altitude hikes with gorgeous spring flowers to enjoy in the meantime. Our photo club is really active with shoots every week. I am joining a cruise to some islands in the Strait next weekend and then a grizzly tour in June Also going on a weeklong cruise to Alaska later in May. I will be almost as busy as you, Chris, taking photos and looking for the “perfect” shot. I just have to buy a lighter tripod!
    Continue having a wonderful and safe journey.

    • christina says:

      Hi Patti
      How nice to hear from you! Your trip to the Arctic sounds great – that is definitely on my bucket list for the future. Sounds like you are doing your fair share of travelling too! I’m still trying to catch up on the blog from our trip with my sister, then I’ll start sharing about our experience on the farm in Tuscany. It’s incredible how busy we have been, but it’s been a good type of busy 🙂 If you want any additional info about Italy like where we stayed, etc. feel free to send me an email and I’ll share whatever info I have.
      Take care,