October 14, 2015


Our youngest daughter loved Venice. I think it was because of the masks and the window shopping. Venice is magic, and is a wonder to experience, especially the first time you set foot in its maze. The walk from our hotel to St. Marks Square was only 10 minutes (if you could do it without getting lost).  For our last weekend in Italy, Venice was an ideal setting. Dinners under awnings, visions of masquerades, and music in the streets will be scenes with us always.

October 13, 2015

Treasures in Tuscany

From the rooftops of Italian hill towns to the city center in Florence, Tuscany has sights to amaze and inspire. We spent a week in the middle of our trip at an agriturismo villa in the Chianti region of Tuscany, which is about midway between Siena and Florence. This location was ideal for day trips to Volterra, San Gimignano, Florence and Pisa. Climbing the towers, enjoying the local art galleries, and wandering the streets were all perspectives that enriched the trip. Showing the kids the statue of David, and the leaning tower of Pisa that really leans? Miracoloso!

September 17, 2015

Tuolumne Meadows

High above Yosemite Valley (at 8,600 feet) along Highway 120 is beautiful Tuolumne Meadows. We were fortunate enough to get a camping spot with friends over Labor Day weekend. Granite is prolific, and friendly enough to try rock climbing for the first time. Tuolumne River is a perfect place for kids to play, skip rocks, and find fish. Because of the high altitude, the weather is very cold at night even in the summer months. Visiting is most successful packing for both winter and summer in a single trip. The road is closed most of the year, so summer is one of the only times you can drive over the pass. Next time you think about heading to Yosemite, don't forget the alpine meadows - they are divine! 

P.S. I can't resist linking to our video of campground fun on the tandem bike

September 16, 2015


One of the coolest parts about touring medieval hill towns of northern Italy is that they are not just medieval, they are also ancient! Volterra is a walled city set between Florence and Sienna in the rolling hills of Tuscany. We went as a day trip while spending a week in Tuscany this past summer. Known to me only as "the vampire town where one of the Twilight films was shot", I was pleased to participate in a much richer history than expected. Beyond the castle tower and town square were several museums with ancient Etruscan artifacts. Etruscan tombs, pottery, coins and jewelry were mesmerizing in their detail. Just as astonishing was the Roman theater outside the city wall. Maybe it is this type of experience that puts Italy on so many travel itineraries. The more you look, the more you discover. 

August 11, 2015

The Ancient City of Pompeii

We spent a day trip traveling from Rome to Naples to explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii. There is a fast train from Rome to Naples, so the travel time was only a couple of hours there and back. Starting at the Naples Archeological Museum is an ideal orientation to the story of Pompeii and the lifestyle over 2,000 years ago. The museum displays frescos, mosaics and artifacts saved from the massive excavation of the city, including the famous Alexander Mosaic.

The city itself has four entrances, so the sheer scope is a surprise to first timers. Stone walls and streets greeted us upon entry, and soon enough we were peering into homes that are so well intact, it's hard to imagine they are over 2,000 years old! We crossed over large stone crosswalks that Romans built to stay above the street level to avoid treading on animal droppings from horses and carriages. We saw temples and bath houses, urns and plaster casts, and pipes for plumbing water. The advancements of this ancient civilization were right before our very eyes. Our daughter, who had just completed the 6th grade curriculum for ancient civilizations, was amazed by the experience.

My favorite room was the Villa of Mysteries, the ancient Roman Villa with colorful, well preserved murals that hints at a cryptic and magical story. Rick Steves has a great audio tour of Pompeii to help you figure it out!