I played with various options for the title of this post, ranging from “Italy’s Most Hidden Treasure” to “Italy’s Best Kept Secret”. Really, any of those title would be apropos. Bergamo is all of those things and so much more. Ultimately, I went with “most underrated” because it seems that most people would rather bypass this northern Italian city for the sexier Venice, Florence or Rome. Heck, even neighboring Verona pulls more visitors than Bergamo. As a matter of fact, I had never even heard of Bergamo until I moved here and I had visited nearby Como plenty of times leading up to this adventure.
Getting to know Bergamo was truly a blessing, because it is the type of place that we will continue to visit over and over. The distinguishing feature of Bergamo is that it is really two cities in one. There is the older, medieval city at the top of the hill (Città Alta) and the much more modern city (Città Bassa) below. Incidentally, I use the term “modern city” quite loosely… most notable development is still several hundred years old. Continue reading Bergamo – Italy’s Most Underrated City→
Have you ever wanted to sound like the world’s biggest a-hole and alienate multiple friends, all in one fell swoop? If so, pay close attention and do exactly as I say. Kind of roll your eyes a little bit in an exaggerated act of annoyance and say the following words with the smug impatience of someone who thinks they’re as classy as Ivanka Trump (but really only has as much class as her father, ‘The’ Donald). Repeat after me:
“Ugh. We have to go to Venice… again?! Bleeeehh.”
Do that, and you are sure to land on the top of most people’s sh*t list! At the risk of losing blog readers, friends and maybe even a few family members… that is exactly how we felt recently when we went back to Venice. I can fully appreciate this is a ridiculous thought to have and even more obnoxious to share… but hey, this is a blog that delivers brutal honesty. When we booked our cruise with Celebrity Cruises a little while back, we did it despite the fact that the ship spent two days at port in Venice. Don’t get me wrong, Venice is a beautiful city with a unique charm found nowhere else in the world. If you’ve visited Venice before, you may reminisce about the romantic gondola rides, the charming cafes and the stunning churches. But when you’ve faced with a visit to Venice for the fifth time, you are more likely reminded of the crowded piazzas, overprices restaurants and long lines full of pushy tourists.
Venezia (Venice) has an alluring history that I find to be more fascinating than nearly any other city in the world. I mean, the entire city has been floating on water for centuries, for Pete-sake! I detail a brief explanation of how Venice came to be in this blog post (definitely worth a quick read).
Even though we weren’t very excited at the prospect of squaring off against millions of other tourists in a space not much larger than the Mall of America, we abandoned our original plans to stay on the ship and instead ventured onto Venice’s shores. We were sure glad that we did! Over the next two days we rediscovered a new Venice; one with more magic and charm than we ever realized was possible. What’s the difference, you ask? We were walking around in the off-season. Continue reading Venice, Italy – Alfred Hitchcock’s Inspiration→
King Joffrey might just be the most evil little man-boy on the planet, but he has got one thing right – he gets to live in a beautiful and unique city (King’s Landing) with a history no more interesting than the real-life city in which the show is filmed. If you’re a fan of the show Game of Thrones, you may know that most of the filming takes place in Dubrovnik, Croatia. This site was chosen after season one wrapped (they originally filmed in Malta) because of the city’s perfectly maintained medieval appearance. It is purely coincidental (and perfectly fitting) that the city of Dubrovnik happens to have a past that is as violent and completely peppered with dastardly deeds as King’s Landing itself.
It’s been nearly a month and a half since my last meaningful post and I am once again faced with the monumental task of getting caught back up. I’m not sure how or why I allowed myself to get so far behind, but I do know that I have left myself a lot of work. The wine, cheese and salami will just have to wait (well, I suppose it can’t hurt to have a little wine while I write). I would like to apologize to my readers for this delay and I would like to acknowledge one loyal reader in particular; Helen actually reached out to me through our Contact Us page and basically said, “what the hell, Greg – where’ve you been?!” Helen and everyone – even though it can’t excuse the lack of content, we just got back from a two-week trip to the States where, in my capacity as Best Man, I roasted my good buddy Josh and toasted his beautiful bride, Abby (read about Josh and Abby’s trip to visit us here and here).
While we were home, I rediscovered some magical things – burritos, quality customer service and Netflix. We haven’t watched as much TV over the past year as we did over the past two weeks. I became obsessed with the Netflix original series, House of Cards – an amazing drama starring, Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a cagey and politically ambitious congressman who is constantly scheming and conniving to reach the next rung of the political ladder. If Frank Underwood can work through all hours of the night and stay ten moves ahead of his opposition, surely I can bang out a few extra blog posts in the next couple weeks.
Admit it… you sang the title in your head, complete with the voice raising on the “and-a I”…
I love to cruise. Jen loves to cruise. And now… Julia absolutely loves to cruise. We have very few experiences aboard cruise ships, but each time we’ve been on one of these massive floating hotels (or mini-floating city’s… I couldn’t choose between adjectives – you pick your favorite), we feel like royalty. We know that we will chose this method of vacation many more times in our lives. Cruising requires little planning and you are always rewarded with the very best customer service, the opportunity to see many more cities than you normally could in a given time period, endless activities aboard the ship, wonderful food, the benefit of unpacking only once and perhaps best of all – a very affordable vacation (you can get very good deals if you hawk the last-minute deal sites).
Our ship – Holland America’s MS Nieuw Amsterdam
The first time that Jen and I took a cruise was on our honeymoon. We spent three weeks sailing around South America (from Buenos Aires, Argentina all the way around Cape Horn and on to Santiago, Chile). I chose Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) for our first cruise, primarily because the itinerary was perfect and I found it to be reasonably priced. I wasn’t nearly the internet-nerd I am today and so I did little research beyond that. We had a wonderful vacation, ate way too much food, enjoyed some lovely scenery (I have thousands of pictures to prove it) and had an absolute blast. However, I had no idea how amazing cruising could really be until we recently boarded Holland America’s, MS Nieuw Amsterdam (pronounced, n-e-w); one of the newer ships in their fleet.
Day three in Dublin brought no less excitement than either of the first two days. If you haven’t read about the first couple days and are interested in reading about this wonderful vacation in sequential order, you can read about Day One HERE and Day Two HERE.
Julia getting ready to go outside for some fun
We had booked a return from Dublin on Monday morning so that we could enjoy the famous Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and all the corresponding festivities on Sunday. We had heard for quite some time that the People’s Parade was a wonderful sight to behold and that we should arrive early. Fortunately, our hotel was directly along the parade route. Even more fortunate was that we were given a room with a direct view of the parade. Continue reading Mardis Gras’ Got Nothing On Dublin→
We arrived in Dublin on Friday with plenty of time to enjoy the day, which you can read about HERE. We woke up Saturday even more eager to get started after everything we had seen the day before. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of eggs, soda bread and black pudding (blood sausage) in our hotel’s restaurant. As Jen drank her fresh-squeezed orange juice, I poured over my cheesy, hyper-animated tourist map of the city. I came to two conclusions – animated graphics of tourist attractions are as helpful as pictures on a menu at Denny’s. That, and we were going to do a lot of walking! Continue reading I’ll take a pint of the black stuff, Gov’na!→
We had exactly two trips pre-planned before we moved to Italy. One to Scotland with Jen’s family this coming June and the other; something way to good pass up… Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland! Jen suggested we participate in one of the largest parties in the world and I happily obliged. We booked a flight on a local carrier and headed to Dublin for a long weekend. I’m going to publish three separate posts dedicated to Dublin – too many stories and photos to fit all into one!
On our way to Dublin
We boarded our flight on Ryan Air from a small, regional airport. As it turns out Ryan Air (an Irish Airline) is simultaneously the coolest and the absolute worst airline on the planet. They offer low-cost airfare throughout Europe (great), but those flights are tricky to find and they nickel and dime you to death (not great). When you book your ticket, you have to navigate through 5 pages of extras that they try to trick you into buying (“would you like trip insurance for your goat?”). By the end, you’re too burned out to read their luggage policy and you might end up in a pickle like we did. Continue reading Kiss me, I’m Irish in Dublin!→
I know its really, “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” but it’s not his home in the middle of Verona that draws thousands of visitors each day; so I took a little creative liberty with the title. More on our visit to this popular tourist destination in a moment. Let’s back up and set the stage…
Soaking up the view
Verona is a beautiful city in the Veneto region of Italy, in the Northeast Italy. The capital of Veneto is Venezia (Venice) – the world famous city built on canals. While Venice is usually one of the most well-known destinations in this part of the country, it should not overshadow Verona – a charming and breathtaking city unto itself. Since Jen’s parents bought their home in Como a few years ago, Verona has been on our “bucket list” of desired destinations. Continue reading Wherefore art thou Julieta? Oh… Your Home is in Verona→