Parte 4: San Valentino alla Muta

This is the final installment of our road trip around Northern Italy in September 2019. You can catch up on

The last part of our trip was a big change of scenery on the way back to Regensburg. Rather than going back the way we came through the mountains, we jagged west at Bozen/Bolzano towards Meran/Merano instead of east towards Brixen/Bressanone. The drive up through Bozen to the Brenner Pass is usually good for some oohs and ahhs, but the little towns along the route from Merano to San Valentino were adorable. It also took a lot longer than it looks on the map, because those are little country hillside roads getting you to Graun im Vinschgau, because those villages come with a speed limit of 50 km/h (≈30 mph) most of the way.

See what I mean?

When we got to our hotel, right on time for the earliest check-in possible, it seemed almost deserted. In fact, the whole village seemed pretty, but pretty empty. The ski lifts clued us in as to why. More on those in a moment. Enjoy these shots of the town first (make ’em bigger for maximum enjoyment).

The hotel owner asked what our dinner plans were and we asked for a recommendation. He named three places in town, and then said "…but it really doesn’t matter — they all have the same stuff." So we picked one, ate well, and zonked out in our rooms, exhausted from the drive.

VinschgauerThe next morning, breakfast was in the hotel, and we chowed down on fresh Vinschgauer. Try these if you like mild anise and fennel flavors (but not caraway) in your rye bread. I suggest a little butter and honey. Yum.

For our last morning in Italy, we decided to take one of those ski lifts up to the top to soak up the views. There seemed to be a mix of serious hikers, mountain bikers, and some casual sightseers (us).

From there, we took the gondola back down, got in our car, and drove off, headed back north into Austria. But wait: UNEXPECTED ROUTE CHANGE! A detour forced us into Switzerland. We had a Vignette for Austria, but not for Switzerland. Ach Du meine Güte, we dreaded the thought of getting pinched for not having a Swiss road pass. It’s been about a month and nothing von der Schweiz has appeared in the mail, so …

Beide Daumen drücken
image source

Thus concludes our Italian Road Trip 2019 series. Buona giornata e arrivederci!

Parte 2: Ravenna

This is the next installment of our road trip around Northern Italy in September 2019. You can catch up on

It was only a few hours’ drive from the outskirts of Venice to the former capital of the Western Roman Empire, Ravenna.

We’d been to the town before, but last time, it was dark, and cold, and difficult to navigate with our rental car. This time we arrived with plenty of daylight, parked the car once, and did all the exploration on foot. The weather was generally agreeable this time, too — though some fierce winds and a brief rain spell motivated us to spend a little more time under the awning at a restaurant eating piadine for lunch.

Some brief notes:

  • We stayed on the edge of the Altstadt in a cool (despite the dorky name) little boutique BnB called "M Club DeLuxe"
  • We bought the combo pass for the Basilica San Vitale, the mausoleum, Basilica Sant’Apollinare Nuovo — apparently they don’t offer just the mausoleum and Basilica San Vitale pass anymore, but it was worth it to us.
  • Watch out for tourists; there were more than we expected for the off season (second week of September)
  • Sarah reserved us a table for a very nice dinner in Ravenna at Al Cairoli: great quality, atmosphere (a table outside on a quiet pedestrian street), and reasonable prices.

Parte 0: Italian Road Trip September 2019

It’s not every year that we get TWO trips to Italy. Last time our focus was Tuscany. This time was a mix of new and old destinations in Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, showing Sarah’s mom some stuff we knew, and some we didn’t. Clearly this is going to have to be split into several different posts. We took way too many pictures to cover it all in one post. Stay tuned for individual segments to follow.

The Route

Continue reading Parte 0: Italian Road Trip September 2019

How Not to Visit the Cinque Terre

I find traveling is a set of skills that stays sharp when you do it often, but we’ve been on a bit of a travel hiatus. After spending a couple of weeks (a long stretch for us) in Mexico this January, we pretty much stayed put for early 2018. Besides, there was plenty that needed doing here. But the drought ended with a road trip to the Cinque Terre, on the northwestern coast of Italy, south of Genoa. In blundering ahead with our rusty skills, we missed a few points on the mental checklist. Here is what we learned so that you don’t have to: Continue reading How Not to Visit the Cinque Terre

A Long Weekend in Liège and Maastricht

We needed to get the heck outta Dodge. Well, I did. With no travel from Mallorca until last weekend, it felt like we hadn’t been anywhere in ages. Don’t get us wrong, we’re enjoying the new place. But a whole lot of work intensity and no change of scenery to break it up made for a very real need to escape for a bit.

So here’s what we did: Continue reading A Long Weekend in Liège and Maastricht

A week in Eastern Italy

October was a big month for us. Really big. Yuge Enormous, even.

  • We went on vacation at the beginning of October.
  • We moved from our beloved literal island in the Danube onto a figurative island in the city.1
  • I changed jobs and office buildings at work.2
  • We went on vacation again at the end of October.

It’s almost the end of November now, and it feels like we’re still trying to catch up from October. We’d planned this trip many months in advance, coordinating with my parents and their friends in several different countries, and so bailing or rescheduling it to let us concentrate on our impending move across town and adjustment to a working kitchen again was not an option. Not that we wanted too, anyways — after getting the details mapped out with the new landlady and previous tenants in our new place, it was good to get away from a stressy bit at work. Continue reading A week in Eastern Italy

  1. More on that later, maybe. []
  2. Same boss, same employees, but new, old, and different stuff for me. Probably no more on that, ever — here at least. []

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part V: the Drive Back

Catch up on the previous episodes here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Early on the morning of our departure from Naples, Rachel took a taxi to the airport and flew to Sicily to continue her adventures there. We started a long drive back from Naples to Regensburg, stopping overnight twice along the way. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part V: the Drive Back

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part IV: Naples and Pompeii

It’s been a little hectic around here since we got back.

Our story thus far:

  • Sarah flew down to Venice to meet up with our pal Rachel
  • Cliff drove down to Piombino Dese to pick them up at the train station and eat and sleep at Ca’ de Memi
  • The three of us drove to Siena and explored for a few days
  • Then we made our way to Rome, where we walked A LOT and ate a lot
  • After five days in Rome, planned a route through Gaeta, tried some tielle there, and braced ourselves for Neapolitan traffic

It. Was. Bad. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part IV: Naples and Pompeii

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part III: Exploring Rome on Foot and Departure

We walked our feet off in Rome. And why not? We had great weather the whole time we were there, and armed with some offline Google Maps marked with stuff we wanted to see or eat, we navigated on foot a lot after taking the Metro in from Cornelia to someplace more central, like Barberini or Spagna.

One glaring and super-convenient exception to that: our hotel offered a shuttle service from their reception to the entrance lines of the Vatican Museums. It was dirt cheap but classy door-to-door service — one of our favorite things about the hotel.1 Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part III: Exploring Rome on Foot and Departure

  1. Alas, they were pretty disappointing in some other ways. See the previous post. []

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part II: Sleeping and Eating in Rome

Arrival and Hotel

We drove in from Lago di Bolsena sometime around 7:00 p.m., expecting to have missed rush hour traffic. Whoops: we landed smack in the middle of it. A friendly taxi driver told us Italians start and finish their workday later, and consequently rush hour traffic runs later. We followed instructions from our GPS and rolled up to our hotel, the Church Palace, oohing and aahing at the gated entrance to the generous and secluded parking around, set several hundred yards back from the Via Aurelia. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part II: Sleeping and Eating in Rome