My husband and I spent the New Year in Pisa. He picked a hotel that was right next to the Duomo. The best part of this hotel was its rooftop terrace. We had the best views of the Duomo at sunset and came back out at midnight to watch the fireworks that brought in the New Year. It was amazing!
My husband and I decided to spend Valentine’s Day in one of the most romantic cities in Italy….Venice. It just so happens that Valentine’s Day weekend also is the beginning of the famous Venetian Carnivale. Venice is always pretty crowded, but you could feel an air of excitement at the beginning of Carnivale. Late in the day, people started promenading in their elaborate costumes. I heard from a local that some individuals spend all year preparing their costumes for Carnivale. Every costume we saw was amazing with a focus on dramatic headpieces covered in lace and sequence.
Viareggio also does a big celebration for Carnivale. We had heard about the giant parades, so we decided to check it out while we had a friend visiting. This parade had the most elaborate floats I had ever seen in my life (one such float is pictured here). Plus, I have never in my life had so much fun throwing confetti.
Florence is still my favorite place to visit in Italy. Last year I explored the Duomo, the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, & Santa Croce. So far this year, I have also explored two additional museums: the Uffizi Galleria (home of many amazing Botticeli paintings including Venus di Milo) and the Galleria dell’Accademia (home of the original David statue by Michelangelo). I have also hiked up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, which displays the best views of Florence (pictured above). You can read more about things we do in Florence on the blog post America Day.
Vinci, as you can tell by the name, is the town of Leonardo DaVinci’s birth. It is a very small town in the heart of Chianti land. There you see a large statue of DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man, a library dedicated to his studies and work, and the chapel where he was baptized. Nearby are many small boutique wineries that provide you with delicious Chianti wines and fresh olive oil.
Outside the center of Lucca, and not within walking distance, is the Villa Torrigiani. The grounds are extensive and manicured in the English garden style. While the family still occupies the upper floors of the villa, they allow visitors to tour the ground floor.
BORGO A MOZZANO, TOSCANA
On our drive to visit Barga (just outside Lucca), we stopped to walk over Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) in Borgo a Mozzano on the Serchio River.
This tiny town is just a 30-minute drive from Lucca. You park as soon as you arrive in Barga. Inside the city center the streets are more like tiny alleyways that would not accommodate most vehicles. All houses are so compact. The Duomo in Barga is worth the climb if for no other reason than the extensive views of the mountains just to the north of Barga.