Monday, October 31, 2011

A cheeseburger in Roma!

All day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning (days 5, 6, and 7) of Mike and Laura's trip, they were in Roma. Josh and I were in Milan on Monday working (me teaching and Josh at the office), then we headed to Genova (Genoa) on Tuesday because Josh had a few meetings there on Tuesday and Wednesday. I mainly relaxed at the hotel, still recovering from that stupid sinus infection and studying my Italian. In the meantime, Mike and Laura were experiencing one of our favorite cities!! Rome! They also had some sicknesses of their own... I guess Mike had a stomach bug and Laura caught a cold (hopefully not from me!!). So they tried to take it easy, but it's difficult to do that when there is so much to see in only a couple of days!! I took some pictures from Mike's facebook page (thanks Mike!) so you could see what they experienced in Rome. Of course, I can't tell the story for them but I can show you their pictures :)

MONDAY: Colosseum and Roman Forum

And they're off to Rome! 3 hours by high speed train
from Milan to Rome.

Looks like the Palentine Hill

the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II,
personally my favorite building in Rome!!

Roman guard on a cell phone? Isn't that against protocol?

TUESDAY: Vatican Museum

St Peters Basilica
The Vatican Museum is like a museum in a museum...
the building itself is an amazing palace that is extraordinary on its own!
Mosaic flooring in the museum

one of the many elaborate ceilings

The ancient Egypt exhibit is great!

If this is the room I remember... there are a few
statues of goats in there- Josh LOVED that when we went in July!

A true American, Mike even had a cheeseburger in Rome!
His stomach was craving comfort food at that point, he wasn't feeling so great.

WEDNESDAY: Castello San Angelo, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Pantheon

Tiber River
Castello San Angelo

Piazza Navona

When in Rome, drink the free water!


Trevi Fountain
Gotta love the Grand Dink!! (one of the scooters they saw)
Josh's uncle Craig would appreciate this!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hold on to your hats!!

a look at the first snow of the year! (peaking out from behind)
It’s now day four with Josh’s mom and Mike (Sunday), and we are on our way to Lake Como to show them the beautiful city of Bellagio. The mountains were SO clear that day, they were lucky to have such great views of the Alps on the drive there! We could see all the way to Torino! Well… it seemed like it anyway. The clear views were due to the strong winds blowing through. It was a windy day!! I have only seen the mountains like that a few times since we’ve been in Milan. Usually it’s really hazy due to the humidity and smog.

Bellagio is about an hour and fifteen minutes from our house, so we were there in time for lunch. The first order of business was to grab some food (the hunger monster was starting to come out). We enjoyed being inside away from the wind and the cold. This little wine bar that we went to has been a favorite spot of ours. They have great food, great wine, and a cellar/cave like atmosphere. Before we ordered Mike ran out to buy some smokes, so we had to wait until he returned to order our food. We planned on ordering for him, but the waiter would not look at us or come over to our table since Mike wasn’t there.  

NOTE: when dining in Italy, the servers will wait until everyone is at the table to take orders.  We took our time and left the restaurant mid-afternoon, just in time to walk around and enjoy the afternoon sun. We did some shopping and exploring (Bellagio is known for it's silk products- scarves, ties, etc). I'm sure by the end we were all wind burned, but it was really fun :) One thing that suprises me when going to Bellagio is how many American tourists there are. Of course, there are other nationalities represented as well... but around every corner you would hear someone speaking American English. The word is out on Bellagio!
Our lunch spot- its a little wine bar/restaurant
Enjoying some warmth and good food!!

a much needed shot of caffeine

white caps on the waves- this is VERY unusual for Lake Como

the ferry unloading people and cars

Mother and Son- they even dressed alike for the day :)
Pink top, gray shorts!

Apparently Belaggio is just too much for some people...
He was drooling... She looked bored!

After walking around for a couple of hours we drove back to Milan. We originally planned to take the ferry to the other side of the lake to see Villa Balbianello, but by the time we were ready to hop on the ferry the villa was closed for the night. So we just headed home. We had a very special date with the Pizza Nazi that night that we didn't want to miss!! Of course, we joke when we call him that. He's a very nice guy that enjoys giving people a hard time at the restaurant. He gives the place an atmosphere of feeling busy and exciting and ushers customers out of the restaurant when they are finished. He does this all with a smile on his face and has a good rapport with the customers. He definitely knows us by now and realized we were with parents, so he was on his best behavior. The Pizza Nazi didn't usher us out- he just pinched my cheek and gave us a smile. Of course, the pizza was a hit with Laura and Mike!! They said it was the best pizza they have ever had!! I'm thinking that everyone that comes to Milan will have to try it to see if that is true... But it certainly has been the case with Josh and I, as well as his mom and Mike!

Next Stop: Florence!!! (although Laura and Mike went to Rome for a couple of days before meeting us in Florence on Wednesday. I'll see if I can get some pictures to post)

*some of the pictures posted are from Mike and Laura's camera

Friday, October 21, 2011

A size 15 boot? and Grande Puffo?

The old city wall in Verona
Day three with the in-laws and we were off to Verona and Sirmione. In the morning Josh and I found ourselves downstairs for breakfast by ourselves. This is VERY strange because Mike and Laura are always the first ones to wake up. As it turns out, we had to go wake them up after we realized they were still sleeping. Of course, they were embarrassed! But they were on vacation and deserved time to relax and sleep!

Juliet's balcony
After a descent breakfast (with American coffee for Mike), we were on our way to Verona. Again, it was a chilly day, but the sun was out so it felt warmer than Venice. My sinus infection was still rearing its ugly head so I wasn't feeling the best that day- but I tried to be a good sport and still enjoyed everything! We took Mike and Laura to see Juliet's house and her balcony. They took the tour of the house so they were able to go onto the balcony. Josh was in the courtyard below the balcony waiting with the camera and captured a cute romantic moment for the two of them :) In the courtyard at Juliet's house is a bronze statue of Juliet. Remember when I said that Italians rub bronze statues to ward off bad luck? Well, this one is no different- although, I think the Italians decided to have some fun with this one. It's tradition to touch Juliet's boob (not just the arm, or the leg). As you can see from the pictures, she's been touched a LOT over the years! Poor girl...

"Locks of Love"
People used to write on the ancient
walls of the house-"I love Romeo!"
This is now forbidden and they are cleaning
off the graffiti.

From Juliet's house, we walked into one of the main squares for some food. There was a little market set up with lots of food vendors, so we grabbed some fresh fruit and panini. By this point in the trip Laura had realized that Italy has some really cute boots, and she was determined to go home to MN with a pair of Italian boots. We were now on a mission! Somehow boot sizes were brought up and we were curious how big Italy would be if it were a boot... we determined that it's pretty big, but not huge, so we settled on a size 15 boot.

The market is shown behind us

Mike and Laura also toured the arena where we saw the opera in August (a warm up for their upcoming trip to the Collosseum), then we took a break for some refreshments. After quenching our thirsts (and taking in some much needed caffeine for me), we were on the road again to the next stop on the way back to Milan- Sirmione. Sirmione is a cute little city at the tip of a peninsula on Lake Garda. This city is technically on an island and has an old castle with a draw bridge (literally the gate to the city). We toured the castle and were able to get some amazing views from the tower. Again, the air was really clear that day so we could see the Alps perfectly!

While we were in Sirmione we noticed a lot of people eating gelato. So... we had to do the same! I found a gelato flavor of Apple and Cinnamon- OMG!! It was soooo good! It tasted like apple pie. The whole day we were seeing “I Puffi” (the Smurfs!) everywhere- it was even a gelato flavor! The new Smurf movie is out in Italy, so everything is about the Smurfs. We realized that Papa Smurf in Italian "Grande Puffo"! We had a good laugh at that! We left Sirmione after that because we had dinner reservations at one of our favorite restaurants in Milan that night- Trattoria Arlati.

Looking at the peninsula from the tower in Sirmione

held captive in the castle

This restaurant was introduced to us by one of Josh's co-workers and it is amazing! Our table was in the basement (that I didn't know existed). The room had a small bar, a stage and a few TVs. This room was also their wine cellar so Josh loved it! The restaurant is great for typical Milanese cuisine, so of course it was a lot of meat and rice, but it’s fantastic! Mike tried the Osso Buco, I had the "hot pot" which is slow cooked meat with a side of risotto, and I believe Josh and Laura had pasta. They also tried Limoncello after dinner for the first time and loved it. This is my digestivo of choice :) They were trying all sorts of new things so far on this trip, and loving it!

the end of the summer flowers

Another great day in paradise!
The next stop on our journey: Lake Como and Belaggio