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Posts tagged ‘Florence’

Travel Update | Work begins in Florence

It is always disappointing to find scaffolding over a site you have been dying to see, but it is imperative to keeping these amazing places in tip top shape and preserved for years to come.  I can remember missing Big Ben, the Four Rivers Fountain and The Bridge of Sighs just to name a few.

Work has begun in Florence until 2015.  Thanks to Italy Magazine for the update!

italy travel alert restoration duomo

Photo courtesy of Italy Magazine

Travel doesn’t become adventure until….

Italy travel with kids

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Copyright 2014   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Daily Italian Doses | My Heart in Two Places

My Heart in Two Places is a beautiful blog about embracing the cultures and life of Paris and Florence.  Click HERE to see more from her blog.  And please let her know how jealous I am.

florence italy my heart in two places blog

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Copyright 2013   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Best towns to homebase in Italy without a car | Part Two

If you missed my first post, click here.  Below are a few more of my favorite towns to home base in without using a rental car and relying only on public transportation.  These are places with quick and easy transportation connections.  Again, I believe there is no better way to get to know Italy while saving money than staying put in one location for an extended period of time.

SIENA

Siena is the best of both worlds in my opinion.  It has the heart of a small town, but the energy and variety of sites like a bigger city.  Many people stay in Florence and day trip into Siena, but  I prefer doing the exact opposite.  Siena is busy during the day but the evening is absolutely magical.  Easy connections to Florence, San Gimignano, Montipulicano, Montalcino and Pienza.

italy travel

SORRENTO

The Amalfi Coast is one of the highlights of most travelers’ itineraries.  Sorrento as a home base makes seeing the surrounding area an absolute breeze.  While this is the biggest town on the coast, it still holds much charms and beauty!  Easy day trips include Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Amalfi Town, Ravello and Positano.

sorrento italy travel

 

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Best towns to homebase in Italy without a car

I love finding a place in Italy and parking it there for an extended period of time.  I believe this is THE best way to connect with the people and have as close to a true cultural experience as a tourist.  Not to mention this is a great way to save money, decrease travel time and get to actually relax.

I will be listing a few of my favorites towns to home base in for travelers that are using public transportation only.  Unlike the US, it is fairly easy to get around using just the train systems.

CORTONA

I love Cortona.  One of my favorite restaurants is here.  Also my favorite weekly market.  And wine store.  And antique store.  You get the idea.  The town itself can keep you busy for a few days.  Florence, Assisi, Orvieto, Spello and Perguia are all within easy train distance.

cortona italy

ORVIETO

My very first hilltown I visited when I was 19.  You can never shake your first love.  Orvieto gets loads of attention because of its location near the autostrada, but it still maintains its beauty and charm.  Evenings are exceptional here.  My favorite handbag store in within the walls of Orvieto.  The views are some of the absolute best.  Easy connections from Orvieto by either bus or train are Rome, Florence, Cortona, Civita, Bolsena, Chiusi and Montepulciano.

orvieto italy

VERNAZZA

If you are planning time on the coast, stretch it out and really make a vacation out of it.  So many people rush in and out of this area.  Vernazza is my favorite home base for seeing the other four villages of the Cinque Terre.  There is more to be visited in the area by easy train connections like Portofino, Portovenere and Sestri Levante.

Cinque Terre

To be continued…….

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Day 29 of My Favorite Italian Websites | An American in Italy

Welcome to Day 29 of my 30 days of Italian websites that will draw you in and keep you dreaming.

Another writer living the dream of Italian life.  She has tons of posts on all topics imaginable.  Enjoy life through her eyes, click here.

Feel like you belong on my list or have a favorite link to share? Let me know!!

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Day 18 of My Favorite Italian Websites | La Vita e Bella

Welcome to Day 18 of my 30 days of Italian websites that will draw you in and keep you dreaming.

Time to focus on Florence with this blog La Vita e Bella.  This a lovely insight into making a life in Italy.  Be patient, the posts are becoming a little less frequent as the due date of their first baby nears.

Feel like you belong on my list or have a favorite link to share? Let me know!!

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Michelangelo’s David is being returned to Italy

After a two year loan to the United States ,
Michelangelo’s David is being returned to Italy

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Top Ten | Travel Memories With My Mom In Italy

I have been asked to be more…..delicate with this list.  While my mom is a good sport she is a tad bit more sensitive than my dad.  I was banned from throwing her 50th birthday party after she watched my dad endure poo cakes, pin the colostomy on the donkey and beer served in urinals at his.  I guess I can’t blame her.

So here goes nothing, don’t be too mad mom.

Traveling was something my mom and I talked about doing together for years, but I refused to go anywhere with her until she learned not to pack three suitcases.  She did eventually learn the art of packing light-ish and I was able to teach her there is beauty in unexpected places (even those with bathrooms down the hall).  She showed me that accepting differences is easier than expecting change and that sometimes people need time to adapt.  Patience and understanding were lessons well worth learning for me.

10.  No matter how old you are, when you feel sick there is nothing better than a mom.  I was slammed with the worst stress induced cold on one of our trips and she kept me rested and hydrated until I could get back on my feet.

Disposal of the offending outfit.

9.  There were many fashion items I learned to just endure when traveling with my mom, but one item in particular was just more than I could take.  The guilty item was a light blue matching warm up suit that screamed LOOK AT ME, I’M A TOURIST!  Weeks of relentless pleading, begging, taunting and threats finally lead to the disposal of that horrific suit.  We called it the walk of shame.

8.  I introduced my mom to one of my Italian indulgences.  Handbag shopping.  My favorite spot is a little boutique in Orvieto.  The ladies kept bringing out more and more bags for us to ‘try on.’  We were the center of attention while they gave us their opinions.  I walked out with two that day!

7.  On one of our long trips together, my parents watched my daughter while I led a tour group.  I scheduled a day of my tour so that I could spend the afternoon in Florence with my daughter.  I insisted my mom come with us and we spent the day riding in horse-drawn carriages, chasing pigeons and chatting with the locals.  Somehow having the three generations of ladies together made the time that much more special.

6.  Civita.  One of my most special places in Italy.  I could not wait to share this experience with my parents.  But fate had other plans for us.  My daughter was sick and puking, so I took her up to the village to try and get her settled.  Meanwhile, I had left my parents to bring up their suitcases and planned on going back for mine later.  What I did not realize was that my dad would take my Rome lecture about safety to the extreme here in this village and insist that my mom help him carry EVERYTHING from the car, uphill over the bridge and to the B&B.  Mind you, this was also during my mom’s transitional packing light stage.  She arrived at my most special place exhausted, overheated, angry and crying.  And that was before she discovered she had to use a bathroom down the hall.  Things were not as I had envisioned.  Civita has a magical effect though, and by morning she was under its spell.

antico forno civita B&B

The infamous bridge of luggage terror.

5.  My mom is the great encourager.  On a trip to Italy when my daughter was only two and I was still a single mom, I found her constantly telling me how brave I was and what a good job I was doing.  One day in particular we were climbing Giotto’s Tower in Florence.  I had my daughter secured to me in a sling while I marched up to the top.  When my mom met me there, I remember her telling me she couldn’t believe how strong I was.  Of course she meant physically but the encouragement was taken even deeper.

4.  My parents have been together since high school.  Yes, one of those sickly sweet romantic true love stories.  I’m used to it and all the mushy, lovely dovey stuff that comes with it.  Over a dinner in Cortona, my mom consumed a little more than her usual amount of wine and I found myself asking them to cool their jets.  The making out was beginning to draw attention and I found myself blushing as she french-kissed him over dessert.

3.  I am a control freak when it comes to my daughter.  I am also a control freak when it comes to driving in Italy.  I needed to leave on tour and decided to make my mom the designated driver while I was gone.  We spent a full week practicing how to drive with the crazy Italians.  I showed her the best ways to deal with passing or being passed on the autostrada, how to assertively but safely manage the round abouts and how to park without getting boxed in.  The thing I loved the most was watching her gain confidence.

2.  While mom might have trouble with rooms lacking private bathrooms, she certainly knows how to roll with the punches when it comes to glitches in travel.  The rain rolled in and threatened to ruin our plans, but instead we embraced the grey and grabbed our umbrellas.  We spent an entire day in Cortona sipping on coffee and splashing in puddles while other tourists (whose names will be withheld) pouted in their rooms.

1.  Life hasn’t always been fair for my mom.  She missed out on experiences as a child that should have brought her comfort and given her confidence.  On a visit to this amazing little pottery studio (read more here), I learned about a passion my mom possessed that I was completely unaware of.  I don’t think her face ever looked more peaceful or beautiful than it did that day as she worked at the pottery wheel.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Roman Art Through The Eyes Of A Four Year Old

A few years ago I took my four year old daughter to the Seattle Art Museum where they were having a fantastic display of Roman art and sculpture as well as a chance to see Ghiberti’s Golden Doors before they were to be sent back to Florence forever. It was a great chance to expose her to art and history before our big trip to Italy! We had spent so much time talking about travel, looking through pictures and magazines and even learning Italian together. I even had a section in my travel office with a little desk and supplies so that she could do “business” with me.  This exhibit was going to be the first time I could expose her directly to what we had been talking about.

Beyond excited for her adventure, she descended from her room and down our stairs like the Queen of Sheba.  Decked out from head to toe in sparkly Barbie party accessories complemented by a blue sundress and magic wand, she was ready to hits the rainy streets of Seattle. We spent the ride into town deciding which exhibit we would see first and finally settled on the statues.

Once in the museum, I was beside myself surrounded with an amazing collection on tour from the Louvre. Wanting to share this excitement and teach her how to appreciate what she was seeing, I went into full art historian mode. I’ve always prided myself in my ability to explain art in a simple way that anyone can understand and more importantly remember. While we walked around the room I talked about everything from mosaics to marble while she listened and commented appropriately.

I could not help but swell with pride as I noticed she was the only child in the museum, not to mention I was the exceptional mother who brought her there.  Don’t think I didn’t notice the admiring glances from other patrons.  The many passing conversations in my mind went something like this:

Why thank you, I do my best

Yes, she is an exceptional child

Quite brilliant, I know

I was practically throwing my shoulder out patting myself on the back when my incredibly  and outrageously clever child stopped dead in her tracts and made an announcement to the entire room.

“Mom, this really isn’t my favorite part of the museum.”

Always trying to encourage open communication, I asked her what made her feel that way.

“There are too many penises here.”

Now that she mentions it....

...she does have a point.

Silence.

Averted eyes.

Was that a stifled giggle?

A pause for thoughtful reflection.

Indeed there were quite a few, and from her perspective (and more imortantly eye-level) they must look even more pronounced.  Always one to make each experience a positive learning opportunity, I decided to switch gears.

I would later regret this snap decision when traveling in Italy.

To keep her interested and to allow me to finishing viewing the exhibit, we spent the rest of the day counting the “yucky, squishy penises.”

Joining up once again with the fabulous writers at yeah write. Click the button below to read some truly wonderful writers and don’t forget to return on Thursday to vote for your five favorite posts.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

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