Sunday, November 9, 2014


Good evening! Happy Monday!

I have just spent the four most wonderful days in a beautiful, Medieval town called Viterbo. On my way from Florence I met a Florentine man on the train who queried why I on earth I wanted to spend 3 days there. "What are you going to do there?!" I was meant to stay three, but extended it to four because it really is such a beautiful place to visit. 

The countryside, the winding, cobbled streets (I got as lost there as I did in Venice!) and the people! The people are so lovely and welcoming. Daniela and Stefano at La Suite del Borgo, Cristina at the Panda Shop, and the lovely young couple who run Buon Gusto - all so lovely! I feel so lucky to have stayed there! (Special thanks to David M who recommended it to me!!)

So, I will try and be brief as possible! I did a lot! 

My main reason for visiting was to visit Parco Dei Mostri, Bagnoregio and Villa Lante. 

On my first day it was raining very steadily so I thought, "I'll go to Villa Lante!" Got on the bus... Had no idea where I was going. Asked some ladies, who spoke no English, where the stop for Villa Lante was... What I got in reply were strange looks and what was along the lines of "you crazy English woman wanting to go to a garden in this rain!" Got to Villa Lante, and it was closed. Because of the rain. Good. So I took a risk and got one of the very infrequent buses to Bomarzo to see Parco Dei Mostri. 

Parco Dei Mostri (monster park) is, believe it or not, a renaissance garden. Created by the very eccentric mind of Pier Francesco Orsini after his wife died. Large sculptures of mythological creatures were carved out of existing rocks and surprise you whenever you turn a corner. The gardens also feature a building on a deliberate, heavy lean. Went inside, it was created such a head spin. It was spectacular and definitely well worth the 2km walk downhill from the bus stop in the mist and rain to get there. And then back up the hill. Haha....

Villa Lante (got there eventually!) are gardens created in roughly the same period. However, where Parco Dei Mostri is wild and expressive, Villa Lante is restrained and mannerist. It's where nature is controlled by man and everything is symmetrical. However, I did appreciate it the calming atmosphere it created. What I also appreciated is that as you departed from the lower level of the garden, that is very controlled, the style of the garden became more free, yet, with still the perspective of the garden focused on the bottom level. 

I also travelled to Bagnoregio. It's a special little Medieval town on a hill (of course) that, over the years through erosion, has become a little island. You can only walk there via a long bridge. I thought it would be fascinating. Which it is.... From a distance. Very beautiful to look at. And then you get to the village (with the other tourists) and you're greeted immediately by many souvenir shops. Not really what I expected. 

So! Now in Rome! (After being chatted up at the Viterbo train Station by a man probably in his 50s who spoke no English...haha) and kind of wondering what I'm doing in the city! Viterbo has made me miss the country lifestyle! Relaxed, country scenery, veggie gardens, good food and good people! (If I don't come back you'll find me in Viterbo) 

Heaps of photos below! :) (Please excuse the low resolution of them.... I've been wrestling with the iPad for about 2 hours.... Time for a glass of vino!) 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Hello all!

On my last full day in Florence I decided to take a day trip because I wanted to see just a bit of the countryside! It was a toss up between Siena and Lucca. I went for Lucca due to the fact that I suspected that less tourists would be there. And it was pretty quiet!

Lucca is a beautiful city surrounded by Renaissance walls. You can walk on top of the walls,  and climb up many towers to overlook the city. There are so many churches here, it's like a mini Adelaide.... Every street has a church it seems!

I spent the first part of the day wandering around the walls where many cyclists and runners do their exercise. It's like the "Tan" up there! Just with a lot less designer fitness clothes and people monitoring their heart rates. Much more relaxed. Haha... Everyone of all ages rides a bike there. It was such a beautiful change of pace to Florence where everyone there hurtles down the streets on a Vepsa.

Next, I bought a combined ticket to the Chiesa San Giovanni, Museo della Cattedrale and Cattedrale Di San Martino. S. Giovanni church was fascinating. They had excavated the floor of this 12th century church to show the ruins of the Roman church that they had built on top of (parts of it back to 9AD). I also climbed up a rather old, rusty ladder to get to top of the church tower. Almost had a panic attack because I could see through the steps... But eventually got up there and bumped into a fellow Aussie named Toby. So! We decided to spend the afternoon wandering around the city, had lunch and chatted away! It was a wonderful way to spend the remainder of the day!

Pics below! (Featuring the Happiest dog in Lucca) 

In Viterbo now! Next post after exploring this wonderful medieval city!