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Italy trip..visited Assisi, Siena , Reggio Emilia and a vinyard in Tuscany Part 1

I travel a lot but I have never been in Italy except when I was 18 hitchhiking through Europe with a short stop in Venice. This last trip was for our youngest daughter. She is a teacher in Cambridge and Harvard has a preschool that teaches the Reggio Emilia approach. They sent her on a week study tour and we decided to add another week and travel around. My daughter is vegan and not very interested in every attraction while I am the opposite. We did not see a lot but I am going back end of August with my husband not only to show him this amazing beautiful country but also to see a few more things. We flew into Milan from JFK where we rented a car for the 2 weeks. We got a Sim card at the airport and also found an ATM to get some cash out. It took us a few hrs to get out of the airport due to the many people and long lines. I had read this board about driving in Italy and was petrified of the ZTL I mean seriously I was concerned lol. Driving in Italy is like driving in Germany except those traffic control cameras that not only scan your speed but also your average speed. I don't think I went over but sometimes I did not see any signs and followed what the GPS told me. Our first stop for the night was in our rented apartment in Reggio Emilia. It was clean, safe and had everything we needed for the kitchen. Roberto and his wife are gracious hosts and there are a total of 3 more apartments in the building besides the homeowners. It had a washer as well! The next morning we headed to a vineyard which was out of this world. The drive through Tuscany unbelievable what beauty this land has. A friend of ours went to the vineyard last year and it was beautiful with a tour and luncheon. Yes we bought a lo of wine and olive oil. Its all bio organic and I think one of the oldest around. The views, the food the wine stunning! From there we drove to Assisi and we had booked a B&B for 1 night. The ride up the hill was a challenge but we were rewarded with beautiful views. The B&B is breathtaking and the service outstanding. We had a view to Assisi and the Basilica. We had wine in the gardens and they brought us a delicious snack. Dinner was good as well and breakfast was out of this world. We then went to Assisi and followed Rick Steve's advise on parking. It took us forever to find the Basilica and walking became crazy. We ended up taking back the bus for 2 euros to the parking spot. Assisi was not too crowded but I imagine in the summer it will be a mad house. We followed Rick Steve's suggestion for the walking tour but quickly became disappointed what we saw and the order of the walk. After that we went down to the other town and visited Francis of Assisi real church , the little one inside the giant one. Beautiful! It feels Holy to say the least. From there we drove for a long time to a B&B 30 km away from Siena < San Gimignano> . On our way there I received an email wondering if we wanted dinner? Dinner would always be served at 8pm. I confirmed it and was glad as we arrived just in time for an amazing dinner. They don't give you a choice you eat what they cook all fresh and many herbs and veggies from the gardens. It was delicious and for 24 Euros a meal pretty inexpensive. We had a Jr suite which was nice and an amazing modern bathroom. A patio from our living room leading to an array of nature. We loved it so much there we added an extra night for a total of 3 nights. We took one day trip to Siena where my daughter wanted to see a few things. It was a busy town. We parked per suggestion of Rick Steve's guide book at the stadium. We did get lost and we took forever but we finally found it. Siena is beautiful and busy. We went to see the Cathedral Crypt Baptistery and it was stunning. Did not really spend nearly enough time there so I purchased a book to read about everything. We did not eat there since my daughter could not find Vegan food so we left well hungry lol The next day we drove around the country for a while.

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we drove around the country side and purchased some wine from a local place and food . We relaxed by the pool at the B&B and had a great lunch. We had planned on going back to Reggio Emilia Saturday and we booked a table at a local pub for dinner. The long drive back was rewarding with the landscape being so beautiful. Dinner was okay and the following week we stayed in Reggio Emilia with my daughter heading to her study group joining 400 people from all over the world while I was left to explore the beautiful town, buy groceries and research restaurants. We found a Gelato place that also had some vegan options and it was great. We visited 3 restaurants all in all one being a Vegan place inside the town center. The restaurant is inside an apartment and the most interesting place I have ever been. Food was delicious and service acceptable. I don't eat pasta at all but while in Italy I did have some and it was delicious . With just a little bit of pesto and amazing olive oil what can go wrong? The town Reggio Emilia is beautiful and inside the town center is where people gather, shop and eat. Our apartment was 5 min away from there but parking is not allowed inside and we parked in a lot close to it. I found groceries to be expensive but quality good. I did not see any heavy people in Italy except myself :) My GPS was a life saver do not go to Italy without one! I put a lot of miles on my car and driving in Italy really isn't that complicated if you pay attention. Dinner doesn't usually start until 8pm..be aware. Also make reservations when you can or you eat at 11pm. Italian people are super nice but not fake nice. They help you when they can. I wanted to wash my car and needed help with the coin operation and the attendant washed my entire car just because he was helpful. Nice! A coffee to go is hard to find paper cups to go is rare. I ordered one and they gave me such a tiny cup I have a picture of it. If you keep your eyes open it is possible not to drive into the ZTL zones. Food purchases are daily and small amounts . Everybody well almost everybody drinks wine. A house wine is fine and less expensive. It seems almost everybody has their own winery :) I allotted 100 euros a day and I must admit I spent more on some days. The cheeses salami and prosciutto are out of this world. So are the anchovies totally not salty and zero bones! Olives melt in your mouth..amazing. A bottle of water or sparkling water is about 2.50 euro cheap and delicious because its in glass bottles. We recycled our waste in our apartment 1 for waste, 1 for paper and 1 for plastic. In Italy trash bins are on every street corner, very clean and orderly. People bring their trash there. Perhaps only in Reggio Emilia but a great idea. We had zero problems with it. Produce is super cheap and we bought strawberries from a street vendor. It was dirt cheap. I was so impressed with Italy I am planning a trip back end of August with my husband but a shorter one without a stay in Reggio Emilia. But a town worth visiting! I am enclosing links to places we stayed and visited. If my spelling is a bit off sorry I am native German having lived in the USA now over 30 years If you are wondering if Italy is for you? Yes GO!

http://www.casolarelibbiano.it/ http://www.castellopetrata.com/hotel-assisi-near-basilica https://www.avignonesi.it/en/hospitality http://www.lacasadelbarone.it/

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Posted by
2051 posts

It sounds as if you and your daughter enjoyed quite an amazing trip on all fronts. I enjoyed "traveling" along with you. I know you and your husband will enjoy your August trip just as much as you did this one. Thank you for posting such a wonderful (and fun to read) trip report.

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5151 posts

Thanks, Susanne. We're about ready for an Italy "fix" ourselves!

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319 posts

Thanks guys...yes I am in the planning stage now. Flying into Rome this time, cant wait. We just bought our flights and I am happy to report my husband is getting excited as well as he started a spreadsheet lol. We will be flying into Rome and stay for 2 nights. I will book a tour or 2. From there we are heading to Assisi and the Siena. Doing a tour in Florence and this time I will see the things I missed last time....happy traveling!