Tag Archives: Italy

Returning to Some of My Favorite Places

Typical Bavarian dwelling

Typical Bavarian dwelling

After almost ten years, we finally gave our daughter her graduation trip to Europe. First stop – Munich, Germany. I discovered that the treat of visiting familiar places  is that you spend your time visiting and rediscovering favorites: a brat at the Hauptbaunhof, a stroll to the Marienplatz, and dinner at The Augustiner were just a few.

A day trip to Berchtesgaden, the site of Hitler’s retreat, known as the Eagles’ Nest, proved to be a major disappointment. I usually plan my trips down to the last detail. This was a last minute decision to visit what I thought would be a piece of history. The view is outstanding but the building is a restaurant, with tours offered only in the morning. The place was packed with diners consuming the German equivalent of fast food. It was difficult to get a sense of the places’past.

Entrance to the tunnel of that takes you to the Eagle's Nest

Entrance to the tunnel of that takes you to the Eagle's Nest

We ended this part of the trip with an overnight stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a lovely mountain retreat. I chose a local hotel and wondered if it would be possible to find the little restaurant where I had enjoyed a plate of Bavarian “mac and cheese” four years ago. It was with great surprise that as we entered Gasthof Fraundorfer, I realized that that this was it, the exact place. What a surprise that with a multitude of choices, I had accidentally wondered back to this traditional German restaurant. The mac and cheese was still good.

While I can appreciate all of the beauty of Germany, my heart belongs to Italy. Its ancient buildings, pasta, and wine beckon me. This time, I rented an apartment, wanting to experience a little of the Roman lifestyle. It did not disappoint. No working air conditioning, no dryer, a shabby exterior all combined to make it an authentic experience. I am not sure what happens when I visit this country but all of the comforts that I need in the US seem unnecessary here.

We returned for a second time to one of my favorite places, the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. This is an amazing place where volunteers accept several hundred displaced felines, vaccinate and neuter them, as well as provide any necessary medical care. Many of the pets are blind, sick, or hurt but they are all loved by the very caring staff. The cats are allowed to wander the ruins of four small temples. Visitors are welcome to pet, talk with the volunteers, and of course leave a donation for this very worthy cause.

The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

Wandering the narrow, cobblestone paths, eating gnocchi quatro formaggio, enjoying a cappuccino, licking a Bacio gelato; these are a few of my favorite things.

I always throw a penny into the Trevi Fountain to ensure a return visit to Rome. Let’s hope its magic does not disappoint.

Strolling by the Castel Sant'Angelo after dinner

Strolling by the Castel Sant'Angelo after dinner

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Roma, Italia

This was my third trip to the eternal city, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to visit. While the attitude of the people can be trying to Americans I find that if I drink, relax and take in the atmosphere,  it is a very special place indeed. Where else can you go just to eat!!

The food is delicious. I can honestly say that I have never had a bad meal in Italy. I chose to eat simply this time and discovered some of the best spaghetti and lasagna I have ever tasted. That combined with wonderful wine, fresh bread, hot cappuccinos, yummy pastries and gelato made us jump out of bed each day to savor the delights.

Two new attractions for this trip included Palatine Hill and The Cat Sanctuary. A very likable tour guide led us through the rain to discover the lifestyle of ancient Roman emperors. It was raining and we walked uphill a lot but there is nothing like happening upon the place where legend says Romulus set up his hut beginning three thousand years of everything life can throw at you. The panoramic views of the city make the tour worth it.

Being a lover of animals the cat sanctuary was a unique experience. A short walk from the Pantheon, sunken ruins are home to about 250 cats. Unpaid volunteers rely on the charity to neuter, vaccinate and provide food and plenty of love to felines that have been discarded by others. They take in sick and injured cats providing them with the care they need to flourish. The cats enjoy your attention and the volunteers love to share the history of the place and will take time to show you around. All of this is free but just seeing their dedication makes you want to leave a donation.

The four days spent here went by much too fast but a few suggestions. I will never fly Alitalia again. The airlines is much like the country – somewhat dirty, laid back and noisy. After flight delays that resulted in connections problems, I will choose a more reliable airline in the future.

We stayed at Hotel Raffaello, a lovely boutique hotel between the Termini and the Colosseo. The room was European small but very clean. Breakfast is provided with many choices – cereals, eggs, meats, cheeses, yogurts, fresh fruit, pastries, cakes and bread as well as coffee, tea, juice and hot chocolate. There is Internet access (5 euros for 2 hours) in the lobby. The metro is two blocks from the hotel which is located by many restaurants, bars and groceries.

I booked two tours through “Dark Rome” and “Through Eternity”. I thoroughly recommend “Through Eternity” but “Dark Rome” was led by a pompous guide who gave too many of his own opinions and went over the allotted time by two hours preventing us from doing something else that we had planned. Oh well… we just enjoyed another plate of delectable spaghetti and headed back for a nap. Such is the stuff for “la dolce vita.”

Panoramic Rome

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