My Earth Day Post: How Becoming a Vegetarian Can Help Our Planet

Retaurant-411940_960_720I took the above photo while I was in Oia on Santorini island in Greece eating a meatless dinner.

First of all I want to say I am not trying to talk down to people who eat meat or convince everyone who reads this to become a vegetarian tomorrow.  Maybe a few people will start thinking about becoming a vegetarian one day or eat less meat such as trying "Meatless Mondays".

Continue reading "My Earth Day Post: How Becoming a Vegetarian Can Help Our Planet" »


Under the Tuscan...Clouds

 

Wandering and searching Island Girl  (1 of 1)-176While visiting Florence I chose to go on the "Tuscany in a Day" tour.  It was very good tour but it was also very long.  It started at 7:00 AM in Florence and ended back in Florence at 9:00 PM.  Perhaps it would not have seemed so long to me if my hotel concierge hadn't booked my "Rome in a Day" tour for the following day.  If I were younger or a much higher energy person that might have been OK. 

I named my post what I did because it was a cloudy day.  I was also reminded of the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" starring Diane Lane.  I don't regret visiting Italy in November as I believe Italy is worth visiting any time of the year.  I do think Tuscany will be amazing when I'm able to visit during the spring or summer when it's sunny and the flowers and fruit trees are blooming.

I absolutely fell in love with Tuscany!  We started in Pisa and although I was happy to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it was not my favorite  part of Tuscany.  I liked all of Tuscany, but Siena was by far my favorite!  Unfortunately, Siena was our last stop on the tour and we arrived at dusk.  It was very difficult to take photos in the dark while I was so tired.  I plan to return to Tuscany and spend more than a few hours in Siena. 

For those of you reading this post who are planning a trip to this area of Italy, there are other tour options that only visit one or two areas of Tuscany as opposed to all four like mine did.  If I were to plan my itinerary again I would choose to visit Siena on a one day trip which only lasts six hours.  The only downfall to visiting the different areas of Tuscany separately is that it will cost your more.  I paid 99 euros to see all four areas during my day trip.  If I had broken down the trip into three or four shorter days it would have cost approximately 200 euros.

Please remember that you can use my photos on Pixabay for free in a variety of sizes without getting in trouble as they are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.  Here is my account:  Mariamichelle's Pixabay account
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The above photos are of the center of Siena at dusk and a famous tower across from the beautiful Siena Cathedral. 

I happened to witness my third wedding in just a few weeks.  The bride is wearing a red wedding dress and her groom draped his jacket over her shoulders as she was cold.  I was very happy to see chivalry is still alive and well!
Wandering and searching Island Girl  (1 of 1)-176Here is the Siena Cathedral.  I have visited many, many churches and cathedrals and this was probably my favorite.  I apologize for the low quality photo:
Wandering and searching Island Girl  (1 of 1)-176The inside of the cathedral was absolutely magnificent and one of if the not the most grand I'd ever seen in my opinion!
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Wandering and searching Island Girl  (1 of 1)-176The following photos were taken in San Gimignano.  This area of Tuscany is known for it's medieval towering buildings.  Families in the middle ages wanted to build their homes and or towers as high as possible to show their wealth.  They believed that having a towering home showed others their wealth.  

I really don't like asking strangers to take my photo but I made an exception in San Gimignano and the following eight photos were taken there:

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Wandering and searching Island Girl  (1 of 1)-176I will leave you with a view of the vineyards in the Chianti region during the fall season.

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Thank you for visiting my blog.  I love hearing from you and treasure all of my comments.  I hope you all have a fantastic week and are enjoying the holiday!

~Michelle

 

 

 

 


What I Saw and Learned on My Day Trip To Rome From Florence

I've always been intrigued by Rome, Italy, but hesitant to visit because I'm not much of a city person.  I grew up in a one stoplight town and buses, subways, and trains scare me a little - actually a lot!  I'm glad that I visited Rome for a day at the price of 99 euros because I learned that:

1.  I want to spend at least 5-7 days there in the future because I liked Rome.

2.  I learned how to use the hop on and hop off bus - it's OK, you can laugh at me!

3.  I realized that the hop on hop off bus is a pretty good way to see the main attractions, but 6 hours simply isn't enough!

If you decide to do one of these day tours which last 12- 14 hours while traveling here are a few tips I learned.  Don't forget the basics of getting plenty of sleep, try to make sure the weather will be decent, and wear very comfortable footwear.

1.  Do some research on what you want to focus your time on as 6 hours is not a lot of time to explore.

2..  If you like to take a ton of photographs like myself these tours can be somewhat frustrating as you simply don't have time to get "the perfect shot" (or even an alright one) in such a short period of time.  I will discuss my trip to Tuscany later which I absolutely fell in love with and is a photographer's paradise.  We only stopped in four different areas for an hour each and I barely had enough time to see never mind take a bunch of mind blowing photos.

3.  Unless you are a SUPER high energy person, it might be a good idea to give yourself a day off between two really long tours.  I did the Tuscany tour which is a 14 hour day and the Rome tour which is a 12 hour day back to back and that was just too much for me!

The truth is I spent one hour out of the six eating lunch at a nice restaurant.  I also went back to the train station 45 minutes early because I didn't want to be late.  It does get dark fairly early in Rome in November.  I still don't see my 99 euros as being wasted as I learned that Rome is a place I want to explore in depth.

Bottom line is these day trips are a great way to get a feel for an area and see if you want to spend more than just one day there.  I will share a few of the photos I took while in Rome.  I'm not very happy with them, but I hope to have some much better ones with descriptions soon.

Rome-1050761_640 Rome-1050761_640I loved the above view so I took another self portrait by setting camera on a table.  In case you haven't figured it out yet, I don't like asking people to take my photo.  It was around 72 degrees F in mid November.

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I wish I had more photos and could tell you more about them, but I found it disconcerting to be in such a large city alone knowing I had to catch a train later.  I've been to other large cities and felt really comfortable exploring, but something about not having a hotel nearby troubled me.  The truth is the worse thing that could have happened would be me missing my train and either buying another ticket or needing a hotel room.  Perhaps I would have felt more secure if I'd done more research before the trip!
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Thank you so much for reading.  I really enjoy all of your comments so please leave your thoughts and or questions below.  Have a great week. 

~Michelle

 


Why I Visited Florence Italy Two Times in One Year

Perhaps it seems a little silly that I would visit the same city in Italy in just a little more than a year I actually almost stayed in the exact hotel I had in 2014.  At the last minute I decided to stay in a different location that was closer to the train station as I knew that I would be taking several day trips

When I visited Florence last summer it was very crowded on the streets.  It was wall-to-wall people on some days in some areas.  I was told that November was a very slow time there.  I noticed a slight difference in the amount of people but it was very slight. 

The good thing about my trip was November the weather is quite unpredictable in northern Italy and it did not rain a single day of the ten days I was there.  There were many days that I walked around with short sleeves on as it was close to 70°F.  When you're doing a lot of walking as I do in Italy you warm up pretty quickly, 

I took day trips to Cinque Terre, Rome  as Tuscany .  I left a couple of days open to visit Venice .  The weather, however, in that area of the country looked quite chilly and rainy so I decided not to go.   Although I am glad I saw Rome I would never go on a day trip to such a large area again the same goes for Tuscany.

  If you have been following my blog you know that I have visited Italy a lot and been to several areas.  I would have to say that Tuscany is on the top of my list for places I want to revisit.   I felt my trip to Rome was quite rushed. I did not get to see much of anything.  I did learn that it is a place I would like to visit for a longer period of time and spend at least five days there.  I was afraid of going to Rome as it is such a big city, but I won't be in the future.

   Florence also has pretty easy access to areas such as Tuscany and Cinque Terre.  There are several museums and offers everything a very big city does, but is not nearly as big as Rome.  Here are some of the photos I captured during this visit it is tough to go wrong with the Arno River as the architecture is so beautiful and interesting on each side of it and the sunsets are lovely. 

The Arno River is such a beautiful scene and a great place to have dinner or coffee:

Wandering and searchingAt sunset:

Wandering and searchingHere is the Duomo which is way, way too big to capture in one shot, but it literally took my breath away the first time I saw it!
Wandering and searchingMy hotel had a great view of the Duomo.  Below is a self portrait otherwise known as a selfie:

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Below is a carousel in the middle of town and I was lucky enough to see a couple of princesses riding it!

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Below is a photo of the Santa Maria Novella Cathedral.  I was lucky enough to witness another lovely wedding.

Wandering and searchingThe interior of the cathedral:

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Here is the ceiling of the breakfast room at my hotel.  No wonder I love eating breakfast in Italy which is something I never do at home!
Wandering and searchingMy hotel had a lot of lovely antiques (another self portrait)
Wandering and searchingHere is a lovely coffee shop I stopped in on my last day for a cappuccino.  I was sitting there relaxing after walking for miles when the owner brought me these yummy confections:

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The hospitality never fails to surprise me in Italy!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog.  Have you ever visited a far away city two times in a short period of time?  I love hearing and reading your comments!  Have a great week. 

~Michelle 

 

 

 

 


"You may have the universe if I may have Italy." Giuseppe Verdi

 I have a travel charm bracelet that was a Christmas gift.  I collect a special charm on each of my trips to represent the area I visited.  This works out well for me because my luggage tends to be overweight, I never have a lot of extra space in my suitcase to bring things home. 

During my trip to Italy I decided to get two charms. The first one is a paintbrush and pallet to represent the beautiful art I saw almost everywhere in Florence.  The second one is a dome that is inspired by one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen called the Piazza del Duomond are a major attraction to tourists visiting the region of Tuscany. The Duomo is one of Italy's largest churches and the largest brick dome ever constructed.

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KiwibThe above is a kiwi bird from New Zealand - it's not recognizable in the top photo :)

The Duomo is so large, it was impossible for me to capture it all in one photo even with my wide angle lens.

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I loved the carousel right outside the Duomo!

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 Here are several scenes outside and inside the Uffizi Gallery.  I took the photos inside BEFORE I knew photos are not allowed at all :(.  I did not take photos of Michalangelo's fabulous sculpture of David at Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze... even though I saw others sneaking in a shot or two.

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I will leave you with three photos of the beautiful Ponte Vecchio bridge which I never tired of looking at or photographing at any time of the day.

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Do you have any collections or souvenirs that you look for while you're traveling?  If so, what inspired you to collect these things?  

Thanks so much for visiting!   Until next time.

~Michelle