My Stamping Corner

Saturday, June 2, 2012

No stamping, but a trip to Italy!

Hello again!! I know it's been awhile since I've posted anything. I haven't done any stamping, scrapping, card making, sewing or anything crafty in months. Every now and then I think about doing a card, but it's been so long now that I'm not even sure I can remember how to color with my Copics! I've even had the dreaded thought of getting rid of everything (eek!!). Yeah....I squelched that idea pretty quick. I will get back to it eventually.

In the meantime though, I have been keeping busy in other ways! I babysit for my 15 month old grandson - two to three days a week. He's so curious, so much fun and at that age where he wants your attention all the time - really keeps me busy!!  Both my husband and I just adore him and treasure the fact that we're able to spend so much time with him and create such a great bond! And of course ocassionally we also have the other three grandkids too (12, 10 and 7) - we call them "the big 3"!!  We are so blessed to have all of our children and most of our grandchildren living nearby. Our oldest grandaughter (who is 25 now!!) lives in Chicago now. We aren't close in proximity, but we're close in heart and talk to her often. 
We also just had a two-week vacation recently to ITALY!  It was sooooo wonderful. We've talked about doing a trip like this for so many years.....we finally decided we better do it before we CAN'T anymore!  It took a lot of pre-planning with my husband doing a lot of on-line research. We spent the first week on our own - we rented a car and drove the Amalfi coast, stopping when the mood hit us and staying in small towns along the coast. It was just spectacular in every way!! It's hard to put into words the beauty of our surroundings and the serenity that I felt while on this part of our trip. The photo below might give you some idea of some of the glorious views we saw all along the coast. Views like this one were frequent!

One of many spectacular views along the Amalfi coast!

View from our hotel room in Positano

One of our stops along the way was a town called Positano. It is more or less a "vertical" town with winding roads and steep seemingly endless steps. It is believed that the town was founded in the 9th century. Sumptuous villas, watchtowers, steep winding roads, the Mediterranean architecture, and one of the largest beaches along the Amalfi coast bring tourists to this wonderful spot! Apparently, from what I've read since being there, artists and celebrities from around the world chose this spot as their preferred holiday spot since early in the 20th century. I can see why. It is glorious!!

Gardens of our hotel
We also spent a couple of days in Sorrento. What a surprise this place was to us! Sorrento overlooks the Bay of Naples and is an extremely popular tourist spot. Within the bustle of this town, we discovered the Antiche Mura Hotel - a positive OASIS in this busy little town! With the best location, only a block from the Piazza Tasso in the center of town, it felt more like you were in a secluded garden resort. Lovely, clean, large, quiet rooms and service to match made this a wonderful retreat! Sorrento offered lots of shopping and tourist attractions plus the best food we had during our entire two week trip to Italy!

Valley of the Mills in Sorrento

Directly adjacent to our hotel was a deep ravine called "Valley of the Mills". (Once at home, I discovered more about this on the internet: The name Valley of the Mills, derives from the existence of a mill - functioning since the beginning of the '900's - used for grinding wheat. Attached to the mill, rose a sawmill which furnished chaff to the Sorrentine cabinet makers. Everything is completed by a public wash-house used by the women.) It's quite a sight to see. I read that along the old ramps cut into the rock, entering through a gulley near the Stragazzi car park and, wearing waders, one can stroll along the wild valley floor, looking at the ruins.

Our second week in Italy, we hooked up with a fully-escorted tour group. We've never done anything like that before, so we weren't sure how we would like it. It turned out to be fantastic and we were able to see and do so much more in a short period of time than we would've been able to see/do on our own! We toured historical sights and ancient ruins of Rome, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican is a "must see" if you go to Rome! We got to see Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. In Florence, we toured the Duomo Cathedral, the Accademia, and Santa Croce which house some of the greatest artistic treasures of the world. Michelangelo's statue of David (at the Accademia) was a thrill to see! Our tour guide here was so wonderful in his telling of Michelangelo, his work, his pain and struggles - you could 'feel' his passion and that of Michelangelo as well. Venice had a charm all its own: the gondolas making their way through the canals, Piazza San Marco, Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Basilica, the Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal. 

Our tour director, Nicholas, was wonderful - very informative, friendly, helpful and made us all feel very comfortable to let him handle all of the details! Our accommodations were always top-notch with great locations and service. And the guides that we had in Rome, Florence and Venice were all so unbelievably knowledgable and passionate about their country, its people, history, art and architecture.....we learned so much from them! I would definitely recommend traveling this way and will surely do it again!

Our Globus Tour Group at the Vatican

There were about 35 or 36 people in our group and we traveled by large bus between cities.Our group was made up of several couples around our own ages (that is....seniors, but still feeling like we aren't!), two younger couples, and three families - one with two teenage girls, one with a teenage girl a teenage boy and his girlfriend, and one family that consisted of the older mom and dad plus their four grown children (all there without their spouses except for the youngest one - his wife of one year came along too). Most of the people were from the U.S.- New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan. There were also a couple from Toronto, Canada; a couple from Turkey; and a family from Tokyo. A very diverse group and after a very short time together, we all became very friendly and had a lot of fun together!  By the end of the week, we hated to leave our tour group "family", and most of all we really hated to leave Italy!!

SS United States 1952
My husband and I literally have been talking about another trip to Europe for over 45 years!!  We met coming back from Europe - he was 20, I was 18. I had been in England with relatives for a couple of months; he was traveling around Europe, mostly hitch-hiking. We met on the SS United States, which was a luxury passenger liner built in 1952, during the heydey of oceanliners, for the United States Lines designed to capture the trans-Atlantic speed record. (The ship operated in transatlantic passenger service until 1969; since 1996 she has been docked at Pier 82 on the Delaware River in Philadelphia.) After a long-distance courtship (traveling back and forth between Philadelphia and Michigan!), we were married about a year and a half later!  We've taken other trips but none to Europe so this was a long time coming.

We had such a GREAT time on this trip that we're already planning another one - hopefully in two years. Now we just have to figure out where to go!! There are just so many places to see!

Hope you're having a great day!!


Kerri said...

your pics are amazing!!! love them and thks for stopping by my blog and becoming a follower...