2015 Northern Italy

2015 Northern Italy

Renu wanted an authentic Italian experience so we decided to stay in Northern Italy this year. We felt that going to Rome etc wouldn’t result in an authentic experience, so we decided to stay in much smaller towns. We haven’t had much luck in big cities and real life experiences and that continued in Italy despite our best efforts to avoid it. (Florence). Everyone experiences Italy differently and we just decided we wanted a low-key small town kind of vacation.



Milan was supposed to be our springboard city. We’d simply land there, sleep one night, and move on to our actual destination cities. Milan is a beautiful city was an amazing duomo and interesting city center, but I’ve never felt compelled to spend time there. Though this interesting artwork helped:

After the first few hours Renu agreed. However we found out the Milan Expo was going on, we decided to take a look around. We noticed this large stage erected in front of the duomo, but figured we’d find out what was going on later. After all, we simply landed there just 4 hours prior. So we walked around a bit and then decided we were tired and headed back to the hotel around 7pm. Subsequently, we fell asleep shortly thereafter. Since the Expo started on May 1st and it was just April 30th, we figured we had nothing to miss.

Oh right, except Andrea Bocelli was performing Nessun Dorma live on that stage that night for the inaugural concert of the expo. I turn on the Italian news around 3am (We are still on US time) and i see his performance, and notice the stage he was on looked familiar…

So we decided to go to back to the hotel to sleep, meanwhile 1/2 mile away Andrea Bocelli is performing Nessun Dorma live in front of the Milano Duomo. I was so angry. I’ll never forgive myself for missing that concert. And how could the hotel staff let us go back to our rooms?!?! 🙂 Anyhow, life goes on. The scene of the crime:

The most ornate door I’ve ever seen:

Renu looking pretty:

This was most unusual. Note, it was on the other side of the middle finger statue:

Pavia, the actual Pavia. Downtown Bostonian’s can enjoy this one:

Renu’s default action on a morning train:

Renu checking email while on vacation, another default action. 🙂


Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is a beautiful area with 5 distinct inlets all within walking distance of each other. Rick Steves really sells this place and it was fantastic. There was a decent amount of tourists here, but it died off in the evening. This was really the highlight of our stay. We took a boat tour to see each from the sea and it was spectacular.




The view from our hotel room:

Prep for our Pesto Class with Nessun Dorma.

Kind of a precarious way to exit a boat in rough seas:






Monte Rosso


Corniglia Again


Rio Maggiore

Some tourist folks along on the boat ride with us around Cinque Terre:



Florence is a beautiful city with many sites, but we simply found it too crowded and only found touristy type shops here. Amazing Duomo which you see pictured here, but we decided to skip most remaining large cities.

over 100mph:



…Of all places. Renu wanted to see it, so we drove there. Beautiful canals and houses, but again very very touristy. We were there the first week of May, i can’t imagine what it’d be like if we were there mid-June or mid-July.

My favorite photograph:



We took a day trip to Mantua (Mantova) to the St. Andrea Basilica. A really beautiful place:


Modena & Maranello

I had a dream to drive a Ferrari once through the Tuscan hills and since we made a ‘pit stop’ in Modena, it had to be done. We rented a Ferrari 458 Italia from Pit Lane. What i didn’t expect was just how much they’d let you push it. The reality is that the kids with us in the car didn’t care what happened to the cars. They are simply along for the ride and give occasional pointers. My navigator was telling me to push it beyond my own comfort level. Once we got into some of the hills, he told me to push it around some windy hills and i almost hit a tractor and some bicyclists. But it was worth every penny. Amazing experience everyone should try once.

Leaving for our ride:

Getting some instruction on the controls:



Beautiful seaside resort town.



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