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2008 Northern Italy and the Italian Riviera

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In May we took a Go Ahead tour to Northern Italy and the Italian Riviera.  We flew into Milan and were joined by Carol's sister Candy and her husband Charles from South Carolina.  I took about 1500 photos!  Here are a few memorable ones from the many places we visited. 


 

Lago Maggiore
This major lake lies Northwest of Milan.  Our hotel was on the shore in Stresa.  One of our excursions was to Isola Bella, an island owned by the Borromeo family for centuries.   The lavish garden was constructed by one of the Borromeo aristocracy for his wife. 

Torino
The city of Turin is home of the famous Shroud of Turin, but it was currently away for cleaning and not available for viewing.  The architecture is beautiful and diverse. 

 

Barolo and La Morra D'Alba
This is wine country.  Barolo wines are excellent and are exported worldwide.  The wine tasting was very entertaining. 

Asti
The cathedral is a fine example of middle aged facades over original masonry.  Our lunch was a quite unique soft cooked egg, in a wine cellar restaurant. 

Santa Margherita Ligure
This is the Italian Riviera - from here up the coast to the famous city of Portofino.  The rooftop gardens were beautiful. 

Cinque Terre
This is the famous set of five villages nestled in the mountain side.  The steep cliffs are terraced for vineyards - nothing stops wine growing in Italy! 

Parma
The center of production for parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar.  Oh yes, and another fine wine and cheese tasting - excellent! 

Bologna
We arrived during a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the local police force.  This is the home of the University of Bologna, one of the oldest universities in the world. 

Florence
We visited Florence by high speed train from Bologna - mostly in tunnels through the mountains.  As expected, the architecture is fantastic.  We were only here for a day and the crowds were shoulder-to-shoulder.  Apparently the time to come is in April before the school students begin Summer travels. 

Ferrara
This city was once navigated via canals similar to Venice.  It has been flooded many times throughout its history, as inscribed on a column standing beside one of the buildings. 

Verona
Verona was probably our favorite city.  It has a great combination of architecture, towers, markets, art, and of course the Roman amphitheatre - built before the Coliseum in Rome.  It was also home to the Montagues and Capulets of Shakespearean fame.  A bronze statue of Juliet stands in the courtyard below the supposed famous balcony.  Rubbing her right breast reportedly brings fortune and good luck - that's why it's so shiny.  The Roman amphitheatre is spectacular after 2000 years - and it's still in use!  It was being prepared for a concert while we were there. 

Venice
Of course Venice was ... Venice - everything we expected and more.  Our guide Matteo and driver Gino were really great throughout the entire trip.  We were fortunate to witness a somewhat rare flooding of St. Mark square due to exceptionally high tides.  Our hotel on Venice Lido was absolutely picturesque and serene.  We could easily have spent the entire summer there.  Alas, after a final bottle of champagne with a gondola ride and serenade by an Italian troubadour, we had to return home.