Category Archives: Italy

Italy: Montemagno mountains and animals

During our vacation in Montemagno, Italy, we decided to take photos of most of the animals around our house or in the air.


We saw and heard many birds in the forest behind the vacation house. Two hawks flew above our house, high up in the air. A better zoom would be needed to photograph objects this far, but fortunately I got a few quite nice photos of these amazing hawks with our medium level camera.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 🙂


One morning we had a surpise at the pool. We were wondering why the water was so still. My husband decided to check the filters. And there we found our surprise!

Sammakko löytyy

A frog. A huge frog. This one was fortunately alive. The frog we found some years ago at the pool by the house in Ardea, was a dead frog.

My husband got this frog somehow to trust him and the frog was saved from drowning.

Sammakko pelastetaan

After a few swimming lessons, the frog sat calmly on the broom, and was carried to a safer place.

Sammakko matkalla kotiin

There was a door from the kitchen to the backyard, where we sat most of the evenings, enjoying some shadow after the hot, sunny weather during the day.

Usually, when I opened the door, I saw a lizard, a funny little lizard.


Sometimes the lizard and some of its friends run quickly inside the house. It was impossible to find them. But that did not matter. The next morning the lizards were outside again, warming their bodies in the sun.


Our peculiar white rabbit, which we named “Osku”, lived around the house. He sure was funny. He was always happy to see us and made some small jumps and tricks around us.

Sometimes he just focused watching something we did not see. This could go on for five minutes at a time. Osku sure is a funny rabbit 🙂

Osku keskittyy

Not all animals and creatures are neat. Check out this one. It was huge and not a bit nice to have around.  I ran away but my husband took the camera and got some great photos.

Mikä lienee_2

One night, during sunset, a beautiful black cat came around the corner of the house. Its eyes look quite amazing in this photo.

Musta kissa

One of our best photos might be this one, which my husband took. The spider was less than half an inch, if even that. Quite a spider, don’t you think?


What are your best photos of animals and small creatures?




Italy: Historical Lucca

We decided to visit Pisa, Italy, and rented a small house in Montemagno. This small village lies up on the hills, just 10 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea.

Montemagno house and the view towards the Med

Our small rental house was so close to the sky, sometimes I felt I could touch the sky.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 😉

Haukka taivaalla

Houses on the mountains

The weather was mostly awesome: sunny and warm. After enjoying a few days by the pool, we decided to drive to Lucca.

Swimming pool in Montemagno
Lucca is a city in Tuscany, situated on the river Serchio. It is famous among other things for its intact Renaissance-era city walls.


Lucca was founded by the Etruscans and became a Roman colony in 180 BC.

If you arrive early in the morning, you can find a parking slot within the city walls. Otherwise you have to leave your car outside the walls.


The atmosphere within the walls is old, beautiful and fascinating. You see small allies, old buildings, beautiful churches and neat cafeterias.


After the early morning hours, the tourist invade the city. If you like peaceful hours, come early. If you like crowds, come later 🙂

I love special small shops. This one was my favorite “Gastronomia prodotti tipici”

My favourite store in Lucca

I bought veggies, capers, cheese and wine… and in the book store closeby I found a few great books. We read a lot. Everyday. Small shopping is great shopping.

When the tourist rush started, around noon, we headed back towards our home in Montemagno. But first I had to take a few more photos and climbed up on the city walls. It was such a  beautiful view, towards all directions.


Driving away from Lucca we enjoyed the countryside. And I must say, Italy is a very beautiful country. Toscana looks like this:

matkalla Luccaan

This is Italy_2

Toscana countryside_photographed from the car

I can warmly recommend Pisa, Lucca and the countryside.  Fly to Pisa, book a hotel room in Pisa or rent a house in the mountains. You will love it.

The Med_Viareggio and the mountains

Italy: Arriving at Pisa

We have travelled to a few Italian cities in the past years. We have visited for example Rome, Ardea, Anzio, Sabaudia, Syracuse, Floridia and Trevignano Romano.

In my early years, I visited Milan, La Spezia and Venice with my aunt and her Italian husband.


There is so much to see and enjoy in Italy!

This time we decided to visit the area around Pisa. Finnair offers direct flights in the summer, which we appreciate.

The flight was an early one. We started with breakfast at the splendid Finnair lounge.

Finnair lounge breakfast before Pisa flight_2

In less than three hours we arrived at Pisa International Airport. Weather in Finland had been quite cold for the past weeks (11 C) so the sunny and warm weather in Pisa made us extremely happy.

Arriving at Pisa

We just had to take some pictures of the Finnair plane before walking to the arrival area to pick up our luggage.

Arriving at Pisa_2

As always in the past years, we had made a car reservation to Maggiore. As always the service was very nice and the car as well. We got an upgrade to an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. We love to drive an Italian Alfa Romeo along the Italian roads.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta from Maggiore

We like to travel to places where not many tourist have been. This time we found a secret hideaway on the top of the mountains at Montemagno.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 😉

On our way to Montemagno_JH

The view from the yard was amazing. A small valley was followed by some high mountains and behind them lay the amazing Mediterranean Sea.

Montemagno front yard view

First photo of our backyard at Montemagno

To our surprise we had a white rabbit as a “pet”. We named it Osku. Osku followed us everywhere we walked in the front and the back yard. The rabbit was a lot of fun.

Osku_our rabbit at Montemagno

More news, photos and stories from Montemagno, Lucca and Pisa will come soon.

Italy: San Felice Circeo and Monte Circeo

90 kilometers south from Rome you find Sabaudia, a perfect little town to visit in the summer. Next to the town you can enjoy the sandy beaches, which strech for many kilometers.

Sabaudia ranta

Right next to Sabaudia there is the small town of San Felice Circeo with its over 400 meters high Monte Circeo. I can recommend to drive up to the mountain and walk around the top enjoying the scenery to north and south.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 😉

Sabaudia beach from the mountain

view towards south from mount circeo

After walking and taking some amazing photos, it was fabulous to enjoy the nice beach of Sabaudia and the fresh water of the Mediterranean.

Swimming in the Med

Fly to Rome, rent a car and drive to Sabaudia and San Felice Circeo. There are some great summer houses to rent. You can of course also choose a hotel of your choice. There are some great once south of San Felice Circeo.




Italy: Madonna delle lacrime, Museo archeologico and the Italian food


“The Basilika and Shrine of Our Lady of Tears” situates close to the archeological museum on Viale Teocrito. It was built in 1950s. The style of the church is futuristic and looks like a tear. The story of this church is amazing:

From 29 August to 1 September 1953, a plaster plaque of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, placed over the headboard of the bed of a young couple, Angelo Iannuso and Antonina Giusto, at 11 Via degli Orti St., shed human tears.

Many saw, touched, gathered and tasted the salt of the tears.

On Sunday, 30 August an amateur film maker of Syracuse, Nicola Guarino, was able to capture the event on film, making this one of the very few miraculous happenings with such documentation.

On 1 September, at 11:00 a.m., a Commission of doctors and analysts went to the Iannuso home sent by the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Syracuse. They withdrew a sample of the liquid that flowed from the eyes. The microscopic analysis verified: “They are human tears.” After the scientific analysis, on the fourth day of the lachrymation, the weeping ceased.

With a height of 74 meters (242 feet) Madonna delle Lacrime is the highest building in Syracuse.

Kyynelehtivän madonnan kirkko_1


The archeological museum in Syracuse is worth a visit. Its address is Viale Teocrito, 66. There are three buildings. You will enter via a nice park filled with plam trees.

Ile archeological museum

The first part of the museum houses the most ancient finds from the Palaeolithic to the historical age.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 😉

Museo archeologico di Siracusa

The second part is devoted to the Greek settlements, and most of the material originates from Megara Hyblaea and Syracuse. The collection of Greek vases, mainly from Attica, found in the necropolis of Syracuse is particularly rich.

The third area is devoted to the Syracusan outpost of Eloro and to the Syracuse’s subcolonies of Akrai, Kasmenai and Kamarina. 


If you enjoy delicious food you will love Sicily.  There is so much to choose from. Fish, vegetables, fruit, pasta, meat, pizza, ice cream, pastries etc.

Cozze gratinate are gratinated clams. Delicious. Carpaccio di spada is swordfish marinated in oil and lemon. A great recipe can be found here. Grilled swordfish is also worth tasting. Arancini are fried rice balls with meat or mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.

And don’t forget the fabulous Italian ham – prosciutto. There are many different kinds of prosciutto and I recommend to taste them all.

prosciutto di parma

Pasta con le sarde sounds strange but tastes so good. It is a pasta dish with a sauce made of fennel, raisins and anchovies. Be brave and try it. Also sun-dried tomatoes are extremely tasty. If you add them to any dish, you make a great choice.

Of course one has to eat some pizza in Italy. Our favourite one is Pizza Diavola, which is made of spicy pepperoni, delicious tomato sauce and rich mozzarella cheese. We usually ask for some mushroom flakes on top. Mind-blowing.

pizza diavola_2

Italy: Venice and the Dolomites

I spent one month in Italy with my aunt and her husband 1986. They lived in Milano, which is a spectacular and trendy city.

J in Milano

We visited Venice on our way to Finland. It was July and it was hot.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 🙂

JH Venezia 1987

Our day in Venice was full of walking around and enjoying the many fantastic sites, historic bridges and exotic canals – something you do not find anywhere else in the world.


Venice is a city in northeastern Italy sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. The town is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks.


The city in its entirety is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Did you know that Venice has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.

Ponte di Rialto is one of the most famous bridges in Venice.

Venice_Ponte di Rialto

We did not spend the night in Venice. If I could stay the night, I would choose for example Boutique Hotel Venice Liassidi Palace.

Venice_Boutique Hotel Venice Liassidi Palace

Many famous people visit Venice each year. In 2013 the Hollywood stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney were photographed on the first day of the Venice Film Festival 2013.

Venice_Bullock and Clooney visiting

I recommend to take a tour along the canals. It is a great way to view the city.




Then, of course, you must do some shopping, sit in cafeterias and watch people. The Italian way.


There were so many awesome streets and alleys, prepare to walk for many hours. There are so many neat shops, cathedrals, restaurants…


My aunt, her husband and I had to be at the Dolomites the next day. So instead of checking in at a hotel we drove north.

The Dolomites were declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

Driving through the Dolomites

The site of the Dolomites comprises a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 metres and cover 141,903 ha. It features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys.

Driving through the Dolomites_2

My aunt’s husband is a photographer. He got some amazing pictures of the Dolomites and the surroundings. A nice gasthaus offered the visitors some fabulous views of the mountains.

Driving through the Dolomites_GasthausI can warmly recommend both Venice and the area around the Dolomites. Go and see them both!