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.

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!
  The Colosseum:Wandering and searching Island Girl  (1 of 1)-119

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. 



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:

Wandering and searching

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

Wandering and searching Island Girl  (1 of 1)-122

Wandering searching 22
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:

Wandering and searching 14
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:

Wandering and searching Island Girl  (1 of 1)-163

Wandering and searching Island Girl  (1 of 1)-164

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. 






My Visit to Isola del Garda, Italy

Untitled (1 of 1)-115

Visiting Isola del Garda was one of the highlights of my trip to Lake Garda in Italy.  The Villa was one of the most gorgeous structures I had ever seen as it literally took my breath away!   It was explained to us during the tour that the villa's architecture and landscaping were planned together which is why the property is so grand.   If the two didn't have each other they might not be as beautiful as they are.


The entire tour of Isola del Garda takes about three hours as guests are taken by boat to the island which takes about a half hour.  The guided tour takes about two hours and includes some wine and snacks on one of the balconies.  You can visit this beautiful villa between April and October the cost is between 25 and €30 depending on what area of the lake you are picked up on.  The trip takes about three hours including a two hour tour of the property. Guests are allowed to take photos outside just not inside the villa. 

This property is also available for use during weddings and other important events the contact information is here:  Contact Information.

Below is one of the gorgeous gardens which are everywhere on the property.

Untitled (1 of 1)-115

Untitled (1 of 1)-115
Yours truly in front of the villa:
Untitled (1 of 1)-115The tower is one of the most impressive parts of the villa:
Untitled (1 of 1)-115There are some very healthy fruit trees surrounding the property:
Untitled (1 of 1)-115

Untitled (1 of 1)-14

Here is the ceiling above one of the balconys on the outside of the villa.  This is the area where we had a snack with wine or other drink:

Untitled (1 of 1)-115

Here is a children's play house in the backyard:

Untitled (1 of 1)-14

I saw this beautiful sailboat while on the tour:
Untitled (1 of 1)-14I will leave you with a photo of another guest who made the tour just a little more fun!

Untitled (1 of 1)-14
Have you ever visited a property that took your breath away the way this one did me?  If so, please tell me about it.   Thank you very much for stopping by my blog.  Please feel free to leave any comments or questions.   Have a great week!



My Visit to Scaliger Castle in Sirmione, Italy

Sirmione-948083The building of Scaliger Castle started in the late thirteenth century.  It can be seen from all over Sirmione on Lake Garda.  I visited the castle and loved the beautiful and picturesque views from the top in spite of the 140 steps up it takes to get there!  The above photo was taken from the top of the castle.  It only costs 4 euros per person to enter and is open daily from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. 

There are so many nice restaurants, bars, and coffee shops overlooking the lake right outside the door of the castle.

I took the below photo as I was approaching Scaliger Castle from one of the narrow cobblestone streets of Sirmione.
Sirmione-948083Another  two views from the top:

Untitled (1 of 1)-83

Untitled (1 of 1)-84
There is a beach and long walkway along the lake when you exit the castle:
Sirmione-948083There are many swans and ducks swimming in the moat outside the castle:
Sirmione-948083I loved this sign beside the castle.  I haven't been able to find any information on why it was placed there.

Untitled (1 of 1)-76A few views of the outside of the castle:
Untitled (1 of 1)-76
Untitled (1 of 1)-76Here is a view of the castle from my hotel at sunset:
Untitled (1 of 1)-76 
Views of the colorful town of Sirmione from outside the castle walls:
Untitled (1 of 1)-83
Untitled (1 of 1)-83Here is a doorway and well inside the castle walls:
Untitled (1 of 1)-83The walkway along Lake Garda outside the castle:
Untitled (1 of 1)-83Have you visited any castles?  If so, which was your favorite and why?

Thank you for stopping by my page.  I enjoy reading your comments and try to respond quickly to any questions.  I hope you all have a great week!


The Magnificent Villa Cortine Hotel in Sirmione, Italy

Untitled (1 of 1)-97

I have stayed at every star level hotel there is.  I even stayed at some guest houses and  hostels when I visited Tanzania in Africa.  This was my second trip to Italy and my first time visiting Lake Garda, Italy.  I have always been very impressed by the hospitality at the hotels I have stayed at in this country.  The Villa Cortine Palace is definitely in the top few hotels I have ever stayed anywhere. 

The photos I post and what I write can not do this little piece of heaven justice.  I truly felt like I was in paradise while I stayed there. They definitely provided the best service that I have ever encountered and the grounds are some of the nicest I have encountered.   The view is incredible as the hotel is set high up above the town of Sirmione.

Being a frequent traveler I have realized that I am pickier about my accommodations then I wanted to believe as I can usually find several things wrong even at the four and five star hotels I've been a guest at.  I cannot think of a single complaint regarding this hotel.  The food was amazing, the staff was extremely friendly, and the view was incredible throughout the hotel.  My bed was very comfortable and the property is very secure.  When you come through the gate you must be buzzed in either through the front or back of the property so one should feel very safe at this hotel. 

The location is also very central and just a few minutes from Scaliger Castle.  The price is quite reasonable for what you receive and if you book through the hotel's website they often have good prices available.  I stayed there in September and the rates were quite a bit less and if I had stayed there between June and August.  If you are someone who enjoys the finer things in life, this hotel could be the right one for you!  I really felt like I was in a museum when strolling through the hotel and around the beautiful and expansive grounds.

The following four photos were taken from the balcony in my room:
Untitled (1 of 1)-97
Untitled (1 of 1)-97
Untitled (1 of 1)-97

Untitled (1 of 1)-97
Below is the lovely breakfast room:


Untitled (1 of 1)-97I am not a breakfast eater unless I'm in Italy.  Omelets were prepared fresh.  One can order fresh coffee or cappuccino.
Untitled (1 of 1)-6
This beautiful structure and garden were on the grounds of the hotel:
Untitled (1 of 1)-6Here are a few other photos I took on the hotel grounds:


Untitled (1 of 1)-97

Lake-garda-941859 Untitled (1 of 1)-37

I found this beautiful garden on the walkway down to the hotel's private beach:
Untitled (1 of 1)-6The pool has a beautiful view of Lake Garda
Untitled (1 of 1)-6Guests can eat breakfast or dinner in this area:
Untitled (1 of 1)-6


The two photos below were taken in the hotel bar/lounge where you can have dinner and snacks throughout the day.
Lake-garda-941859I am practicing using a tripod and timer to take photos.  I decided to take photos of myself in some of the beautiful rooms around the hotel which is full of gorgeous antiques.
Lake-garda-941859 People-947002

I was hesitant to post a photo of my nice big room as it was a little messy, but I loved the chandelier over the bed!

Untitled (1 of 1)-97
The following two photos are of the hotel's private beach and restaurant:
I will leave you with just one of the lovely sunrises I saw:

Untitled (1 of 1)-96

Thank you for much for visiting my blog!  Have you stayed at any hotels that you absolutely loved?  I really appreciate comments and treasure every one I receive.  I hope you are having a fantastic week.