Tag Archives: Jane & Marie’s Italy Trip 2016

Our Final Observations ~ Jane & Marie

A little tidbit that Jane and I forgot to tell you before this final (I promise) wrap-up.  When we were having a chat with Nina we had a little stunned staring moment.  Nina with wide eyes to hear that I had been to 10 concerts and me with even wider eyes to learn she had been to none!


11 planes,
11 trains,
10 taxis’s (two of them water),
2 rental cars,
1 ferry,
2 airport shuttles,
1 bus,
1 gondola
and really tired feet, we have made these observations.  

(Please remember these are our opinions only)

* Italians eat late.  Most restaurants are closed until dinner at 7 o’clock all over Italy.

* Italian men and women are better looking than American men and women…by far!  Honest!  Jane tried to take one home in a produce store.  I was going to help.

* They also dress better than us and not just in the fashion districts either.


* They have got to be the worse drivers in the world!  You’ve heard this before.  It’s true!  My newest gray hairs attests to this.

* They will go out of their way to help you and think nothing of getting in their car to lead you to where you need to go.

* Most want to visit N.Y., L.A. and Las Vegas.  Some list Miami, also.

* They love their country very much!

* They show their affection for each other freely. Not just couples either.  Fathers and daughters, sisters and brothers, everyone.  We wish we saw that more in the U.S.

* They use a bidet.

* They put olive oil on everything except Gelato.

* There are two or three Gelato vendors on every block.


* Only Nina’s pizza is better than ours…Well, we think so.

* All of their pasta is better than ours.  Marie tried most of it…for comparative research, of course.  Marie also sampled a few Italian wines.

* Churches, homes, in fact most buildings were built before America was discovered!



* They put pianos in public places, people pause, sit down and play a while, then go about their business.  We really loved this.


* Their coffee will surely grow hair on your chest.  Jane must have some by now.  (No picture here)

* They mostly live in apartments with flowers and laundry hanging over balconies.


* They have no cows and don’t drink milk.  We saw about six cows our entire trip.  However, they have some really tasty varieties of cheese.  We can’t explain how they do that.  Just some Italian magic we guess.

* Stop lights, stop signs, no passing zones, turn signals, and your car are ignored…completely.

* They have blood red orange juice that Marie fell in love with and will find it in the states…somewhere…somehow.

There is a reason graffiti is an Italian word.  It’s plentiful!



* Their pastry is huge.  A croissant is bigger than your head.


* Most snacks in stores are of the sweet variety.  Ask Jane, she tried most of them.  Umm, research again.

* Their mountains are unbelievably magnificent!   There seems to be an ancient village and church bell tower perched on top of each of them.

* There are hundreds of miles of olive groves and vineyards.


* Have we said they are insane drivers?

* Wear an Il Volo t-shirt in the boys home towns and you are certainly noticed. Everyone is either related to them, went to school with them, played ball with them or sang with them at some time.

* Outside of their home towns Il Volo is NOT very well known.  We were told it’s because they sing old music or they sing mainly in English (?) Yet they fill venues all over their country.

* They have an amazing transit system.  It’s electric, cheap, quiet, comfortable and is everywhere.  Why don’t we have this in the U.S.?


Thank you, everyone for allowing us to share our stories and photo’s.  This was the trip dreams are made of.  It was hard to leave.  With all our hearts we would return!

***END*** (really this time)

Nostra Grande Avventura Italiana~Milan

We are finally back in Milan which is where our adventure began.  We have mixed emotions.  We are tired, but floating in happiness and satisfaction knowing the entire trip was a huge success beyond our wildest dreams!   From the time we arrived in Milan to the day we left Milan for the airport again we had logged 2,060 miles in two weeks while taking our large circle tour!  That number paled in comparison to the total number of miles logged for the entire trip which was 12,647.  No wonder we were a wee bit tired.

 We arrive at Milan Centrale train station which is HUGE.  By now we were pretty good at finding the Trenitalia office for help with train issues, bagnos, food areas and were really proud of ourselves that we could stand along with throngs of others and stare at the huge billboard of train arrivals and departures and actually know what we were looking at!  


Making our way through this immense station we were suddenly looking at a fantastic advertisement for Il Volo’s upcoming concerts in Italy!  WOW, it looked great!  Marie was so excited she kissed her hand and touched each face on the marquee.  No,  Marie, I am sorry, but as far as I know you can not extract DNA from a picture.


We had good intentions of shopping and site seeing on our last day, but soon realized our bodies were begging us to do something else…REST.  A quick decision was made to shop at the airport the next day and rest up today.  A very wise decision I might add.  

The next day we get on a train that is taking us to Malpensa Aerporto, a one hour ride from Milan Centrale.  I am sitting across from Marie so we both have different views from where we sit.  She is smiling ear to ear and NOT at me.  She then informs me there is a “Gianluca look alike, especially the EYES” sitting directly in her view in a seat just beyond ours!  I take my time, but have to peek a look at this vision that is tantalizing Marie.  Yep, she’s right!  Now we have spotted many handsome Italians along our journey, but Marie realizing these visions of  good looking men will soon be but a memory, decides she will have one lasting close up encounter with our Gianluca look alike.  Keep in mind we have only been on this train for maybe 10-15 minutes of an hour long ride when this handsome man stands up in the aisle right next to Marie as he is getting off the train at this point.  Marie quickly leans into his handsome face and is eye to eye asking him if this is the Malpensa Aerporto stop?   He kindly replies that no, we have 4 more stops to make before the airport.  Marie thanks him, “grazie” (using her best Italian skills) sinks back into her seat with a smiling glow about her.  She is now looking at ME with this ear to ear grin.  I can only think, “smooth Marie, R-E-A-L smooth”.  If only I had had my camera ready to capture that Kodak moment.







Nostra Grande Avventura Italiana~Brescia


 One of the main goals of our adventure had been to immerse ourselves in Italian culture and people.  We did this by venturing into and staying right in the smaller villages and towns to really see and feel how Italians live.  We took a train one hour east of Milan to join up with Daniela from the Flight Crew web site.  There at the train station were Daniela and her wonderful Sicilian husband, Beppe, waiting for us with open arms.  We knew immediately that this would be one very special day from the genuine warmth we felt upon this first meeting.  Out came the translator technology.  Daniela outshined  us all by speaking very good English by the end of the day!  

Daniela and Beppe


They took us on a walking tour of beautiful piazzas, city streets, a magnificent old cathedral,  ancient statues that possessed  beauty hard to describe, the ancient ruins discovered when excavating a hillside for new construction and the castle that over looks the entire city.  We were truly in awe as we admired the beauty of this town Daniela and Beppe are proud to call home.  


View from the castle


Daniela then informed us we were going to their home for lasagna.  When we got in the car she put her Notte Magica CD in and turned on Ave Maria Mater Misericordiae.  Much to our delight she turned it up real loud!  It was awesome to see Beppe is just as much of an Il Volo fan as Daniela!  So there we are riding along the streets of this beautiful Italian town with our new Italian friends, mesmerized by the music filling the air we breathed.  It was close to an out of body experience for the both of us!   What could make this any better you ask?  

We arrived at their lovely home and were given a tour.  Then we settled in to the kitchen for quite a feast!  Beppe started a warm fire in the fireplace (in the kitchen) and put the Notte Magica DVD on for us to watch the concert while we feasted Italian style.  Wine, bread, mouth watering marinated artichokes, olives and thin sliced salami was the first course.  Then came delicious lasagna bolognese.   Next were tasty ribs and french fries.  Then came grapes and fresh sliced pineapple.  Then cheeses were offered.  Then came a wonderful cake her daughter had made for us.  This was then topped off with Italian coffee.   We ate until we were wonderfully full.   We were truly in seventh heaven!

Table all set for company


Mouth watering lasagna!


In the comfort of an Italian home


Our day didn’t come to an end before giving us each gifts of Italian espresso coffee makers and good Italian coffee, then taking us to a beautiful, peaceful lake out in the country where people were feeding swans and ducks and walking around enjoying the area.  We bid them good bye at the train station and headed back to Milan.  We will never forget the warmth, kindness and genuine hospitality shown to us that day.  They are what Italy is all about.  We have learned through Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio, the amazing love and affection Italians have for others.  We have felt the beauty of this first hand upon meeting Daniela and Beppe.  Little did we know we had saved the best for last…Daniela and Beppe, Grazie dal profondo del nostro cuore.

Three friends forever




Nostra Grande Avventura Italiana~Portofino

OK, so we knew it was bound to happen it was only a matter of time…we finally took a wrong train on the way to Portofino.  We got off and lugged our suitcases down the stairs into the subway to cross under the tracks in order to get onto the other side…and hauled said suitcases back up the stairs to the correct train tracks.  We have very few regrets from this whole trip, but one of them was that we wished we would have thought to have worn pedometers or Fitbits to track OUR mileage on this journey.  I will tell you we both lost weight on this trip and you will understand why near the end of our stories when we reveal exactly how many miles we traveled on our adventure.  So, back on the correct train to Portofino where you actually have to get off in Santa Margherita Ligure and go by either ferry, bus or cab to Portofino.  We chose ferry as Daniela had hinted to us how beautiful it is to see these small fishing villages from the waters perspective…and she was right!

The Ligurian Sea


Entering Portofino


It was a very short distance from the shore to our hotel.  And once again, steps, and plenty of them.  Marie chose to wait at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the hotel front.  I ventured up and into this grand old hotel, Hotel Eden, to check us in.  I was greeted by a very nice short Italian man named, Francesco.  I was informed we had reserved “the cheapest room in the hotel which is on the roof and up those stairs” as he points to a spiral staircase leading up to who knows where as I couldn’t see the end of it!  Francesco then tells me if we would RATHER have a room right on the first floor by the desk and not do those grueling stairs we could, but for a higher price of course.  I told him to wait a moment while I went and spoke with my friend outside.  Well it didn’t take even one complete sentence out of my mouth before Marie gave me the green light to fork out the big bucks and NOT have another STEP MASTER set of stairs to climb.  So two happy weary ladies checked into the Hotel Eden in the comfort of the first floor!  As was the case with a small room it was very hot so we tried to get the AC to come on, but it didn’t seem to be working right.  I went to ask Francesco about it and he followed me back into our room saying, Senora, eeets weentur out there…you no need this…I open windows for you” as he grabbed the remote from my hand and threw open the windows.  I guess October 30th is “weentur” in Portofino and there is no way you can use the AC.  Lesson learned.  (Smile)

Stairway to rooftop!


Beautiful Gardens of Hotel Eden


We spent a beautiful day/evening walking the cobblestone pathways around the shore line, browsing in shops and people watching.  Such an array of people in these little villages.  We heard many languages besides Italian being spoken.  We saw tour groups following their leaders. We saw one very happy group of people participating in a wine tasting event.   We saw dogs of every size being walked about.  We saw people simply enjoying the ambience of such a beautiful place.


Castle overlooking village


Portofino becomes magical at night


Dinner at a sidewalk cafe


The next day we took the city bus back to Santa Margherita to connect with trains to get us back to Milan.  On this bus we met a fun couple from Cananda, Frank and Mary, who were celebrating their 20th Anniversary!  They were on a cruise ship and had just gotten off to spend the day on shore.  Marie told them about the Flight Crew, gave them a card and invited them to come on to the site as we would say a special hello to them from here!  We really didn’t run into too many American or English speaking people on the entire trip.  It was always fun when we did.

Happy Anniversary Frank and Mary!


So back to Milan we go…  we are very excited about our day coming up with Daniela in Brescia!





Jane & Marie ~ A Cliff Hanger


Marie:  “Jane, I can’t believe you booked us a place ON A CLIFF where we had to zigzag down 200 stone steps.


Jane:  “I asked you that before I booked the site.”

M:  “Yeah, but that was before I actually knew what 200 steps carrying a 35 pound suitcase and a backpack would be like.”


J:  “Well, we did it.”

M:  “Yes, but I cursed you the entire way down.”

J:  “I know, I could hear you.”

M: “Good!”

J:  “Come on Marie, you have to admit it was one of the most beautiful views you have ever seen.”

M:  “Jane, it was the most beautiful view I have ever seen!”


J:  “Do you think the Crew would believe we walked back up those steps for dinner and then back down in the dark?”



M:  “Jane, I don’t believe it!  Especially since we had to walk back up to leave the next day.”

J:  “But there was a tram for our luggage.”

M:  “True.  Did you see me hold out my arms and beg him to let me ride up on the tram?”

J:  “Yes, it’s ok though…I’m getting use to you embarrassing me.”


M:  “I had two thoughts on the walk up. 1) I should have stayed in the room.  Eventually the police or someone would just drag me up the steps and 2)  I’m glad I gave you my families phone numbers so they would know where to find my body.”

J:  “Ya big baby.”


M:  “Hey, you’re the one who renamed  ‘Borgo di Campi’,  ‘Borgo di Cardio‘.”


J:  “Look on the bright side.  We probably worked off some of that Gelato we had been eating.”

M:  “I hate you.”

J:  “I know.”