Tag Archives: vacation

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_2

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.

Lucca_3

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

Lucca_5

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.

Lucca_1

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

Egypt – a pearl among the travel destinations

I have written a few short stories of our trips to Egypt (Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh and Port Ghalib) as well as posted a few posts about the superb and fantastic underwater world in the Red Sea.

Picasso fish at Port Ghalib

Egypt has some terrific places for anyone interested in an exotic culture, sun bathing, swimming, snorkeling and diving.

Great sphinx of Giza

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them.

At the moment there are vacation flights from Finland to Hurghada and Marsa Alam. Sharm el-Sheikh is also a very popular and interesting area. We have been there once. I can recommend to visit it. At the moment there are though no flights from Finland to Sinai area. Hopefully there will be some in the near future.

Elegant Unicornfish

 

We have fallen in love with Intercontinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort -hotel some years ago. The perfect beach (private beach), the coral reefs, the sunny weather, the hotel, the friendly staff, the fabulous food, the sunsets, the splendid rooms and suites – everything.

Coming from the beach to the cafe area

port g ranta ja sukellusvene_1

The hotel beach is spacious and you can relax and enjoy the views.

A great day comes to an end at ICPG

You can also enjoy the wonderful swimming pools. A few of them are huge.

PG pool area

It is so true what the hotel’s social media posts say:

We know there will be days when you want nothing more than to laze by the pool as the soft breeze rustles through the palms … or gaze out over the waters of the Red Sea, which sparkle in the unbroken warmth of the sun all year round.

Happy people in the big pool ICPG

And if you like a unique and enriching wellness experience, you will be thrilled with the award winning six senses spa at the hotel.

I also recommend warmly to try snorkeling or diving, which ever you prefer. This beach is great, because you can actually snorkel and dive in right from the beach. You don’t have to travel far, unless you want to.

In the harbour, there are boats, which take you out to the sea on diving trips. There are also seascope submarines.

PG harbour

Those who want to enjoy shopping, a cup of coffee or a nice dinner, can stroll to Port Ghalib harbour, which is a nice place.

PG harbour cafeteria

So, in a few words, what are you waiting for?

Make a reservation and go enjoy a perfect holiday!

PG beach seen from the sea

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.

venice_shopping

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: 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_1

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.

Venice_5

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

Venice_3

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.

Venice_6

Venice_7

Venice_8

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

venice_shopping

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

venice_shopping_2

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!

 

 

Italy: Trevignano Romano and Bracciano

A HOUSE BY THE LAKE

A few years ago we thought about renting a house in Cyprus. Or in Malta. But the flight choices from Helsinki were not the best possible. No direct flights to Malta anymore.  Cyprus had some interesting houses for rent, but at the end we could not find one within our budget, and fulfilling our wish list. So we turned to fabulous Italy – again. Great choice!

This time we chose to visit an area north of Rome, as we had so far visited areas south of Rome.

Italy is full of great people, the language is beautiful and interesting to learn, the food and wine culture is fabulous and the scenery is awesome, wherever you go.

As earlier, we found it hard to find a house with air conditioning. The summers in Italy are hot. I was about to give up, trying to find a nice house 1 hour north from Rome, with AC. Then I got a reply to one of my queries. A man in Trevignano Romano said his family has a vacation house for rent. The owner promised that the house reflected our wish list.  He promised there is ACin the house.

So we made a deal. We chose a house by a lake, instead of the Mediterranean sea, as always before. And what a view we had from the house down to lake Bracciano.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 🙂

view from the T R house

While you wait to travel, read travel blogs and books of the country and the area, which you will visit. Check out the web pages of the city you will stay in. Then you know in advance of events during your vacation, find tips on great restaurants and museums, etc.

Trevignano_view from the house 2


TREVIGNANO ROMANO

This was the second time we chose a house, by chance,  in a city where the Italian themselves like to stay during the weekend and the holidays. 3500 – 5000 people live in Trevignano Romano.  It depends on who you ask. Many come there just for the weekend. Those who live there, work in Rome or are working from home.

The beautiful Trevignano Romano is situated by Lago di Bracciano, lake Bracciano, less than 50 kilometers north from Rome.

The highway A12 takes you from the international Fiumicino airport to Cerveteri, where you turn inland. From Cerveteri it took maybe 15 minutes to Bracciano, a small town by the lake Bracciano.

Cerveteri Bracciano map


BRACCIANO

The old town of Bracciano is small but very beautiful. On Piazza Mazzini you find the old castle Castello Orsini-Odescalchi.

bracciano castle wedding

You can rent the castle nowadays. One couple who did this was Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, when they were looking for a fabulous place for their wedding.

Tom and Katie wedding

From Bracciano we moved on along the SP4a towards Trevignano Romano. On both sides of the road a thick green forest surrounded the road. Every now and then we saw a glimpse of the lake. We also saw some amazing houses right by the lake. I wonder how much they cost. Our vacation house was close to the lake, but not 10 meters from it, like these houses.

T R beach houses

In ten minutes we arrived in Trevignano Romano. I must say I have seldom seen anything so beautiful.

Trevignano Romano

In the middle of the main street we turned left. The street got smaller and smaller. It was fascinating to see such old roads, with houses so close you could almost touch them through the car window.

Trevignano town 1

Putting on the first gear our small Alfa Romeo made it to the top of the hill. The view from Monticello hill was unbelievable and breathtaking.

T R view from the house to the lake

view of the b lake

Even though we check and recheck certain things, Italians tend to surprise us every now and then.

The very polite house owner showed us around the house and the garden. Everything looked great and perfect.

Trev house_JH outside

The house was bigger than we thought and needed, but it is hard to find small houses.

The garden was huge and had trees, bushes and plants everywhere.

T R house backyard flowers

The swimming pool was located a the south corner of the garden. It was a great spot. On your east side you have the amazing Parco Naturale Regionale di Bracciano and on your south side you can see all the way to Rome on a sunny day. The house had a small terrace and a bigger one. The view from the bigger terrace was just beautiful.

T R view from the upper terrace

When we asked about the AC,  the owner looked a bit sly. When I reminded him of the importance of AC to us, he started to talk about global warming etc. He also said it would not be too hot, so we would not need AC. We said we do need it. The temperature was already surprisingly high, around 34° C. Early June this is hot, even in Italy.

Finally the owner said there was an AC in the house. But, it was in the dining room. It had not been used for years. He said he would go and get the remote control and check if the AC works. When he came back and turned on the AC, a terrible noise filled the house.

As our Italian house renter did not know what to do, and as my husband is quite smart with technical apparel, my husband said he can have a look. And smart as he is, he repaired the AC with the things available. The AC started working, without smoke and noise,  but at the lowest level. We were surprised that the owner had not checked and fixed the AC, as it is mentioned in the ad and as we had especially asked for it. We also had to pay extra for the AC.

It got so hot the next week that the house owner drove north with his family as it was too hot for them in Trevignano! And still he said no AC is needed in the house … This was hilarious. 😉

But the house was nice, the garden was huge, we had a swimming pool (2 meters from the natural park) and the location was fabulous. So we had a terrific 2 weeks in Trevignano Romano.

pool next to the natural park in T R