Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mikki and Michele's Marvelous Meanderings Through Italy

Flight was great, slept thru turbulence (am told), checked in to Grand Cavour Hotel near Piazza della Signoria. To lunch at Buca Dall'Orafo, we shared panzanella, mushroom torte and spaghetti with clams (a la vongole) Amazing!!

To Church of Santa Croce to see the tombs of Michelangelo, Gallileo, Dante Aligheria, Rossini and Machiavelli,,,all entombed in the same church, even this little Jewish gal was in awe. Walk, walk, walk to shoe shopping, saw THE most dazzling Italian man ever, I couldn't speak, what a surprise that is. Saw the David, now looking to find a real David, went to Gelateria for the most outrageous gelato (baci and coffee crunch) then to the most Mikki store in Florence, Luisa Via Roma and no didn't buy anything but drooled a lot over the pricing. Walked over 10 miles so we can now enjoy our flights of pasta tonight. Just half hour to get ready and post this...will post some photos from today when we come back from dinner if I don't collapse first from the 7 hour day one walk, shop, tour. Buona Sera.


Couldn't find the guy who went with the Maserati but did get kissed by Cupid, is that a sign?

Went to the leather market and yes, I already had to buy a new suitcase, yikes! Found shoe nirvana in Florence then back to lunch at Gilli at Palazzo Vecchio. Even the store bodyguards are "bellissimi" Walked 13 miles which hopefully nullifies the daily gelato), 
lovely dinner at La Giostra, top ten restaurant in Florence. 
Packing for Rome tomorrow, arriverderci!

Took the high speed train (first class of course) from Florence to Rome and checked into the fabulous boutique Art Hotel on the Via Margutta. Immediately dropped our bags and hit the Italian ground running for some more shopping, what else?
After that we walked (averaging about 13 miles a day) to the Pantheon and heard a gorgeous choir

while I stood in awe and managed to take some touristy photos. Walked to Piazza Navona and saw the Fountain of the Four Rivers, amazing. 
Then to lunch at Obika, mozzarella bar and had the most delicious meal of mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and fresh anchovies with foccaccia. My taste buds were singing. 
Walked to THE gelato place, Giolitti and had coconut and nutella, now really!!!! 

Took a ride down the luxurious Via Veneto, home of La Dolce Vita, then to the top of the Spanish Steps where I had my caricature done then walked down the famous steps back to hotel. 

Dinner at Le Sorelle then a walk to Trevi Fountain to throw some coins in but alas, alack, it was under construction. 
Oh Italia, soccer, cigarettes, gelato, motor scooters and so many men and shoes and so little time.

Got up VERY early to take a taxi by myself (like a big girl) to Vatican City for my tour. Yes, tour!! I hate tours but…it was that or wait in VERY long lines, which I hate more than tours. So this li’l Jewish gal from NYC did the holy tour of the Vatican, The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica and it was beyond amazing.
As I sat silently in the Sistine Chapel, I was brought to tears by its magnificence and tonight my gratitude journal will overfloweth. I will admit I could have done the 4 hour tour in 2, but nevertheless it was awe-inspiring. 
Here's a photo of me with my Vatican guide, Alex, who speaks five languages. Now realllllllly! 

I finally managed my Italian currency enough to get back to hotel and meet Michele for lunch. It was time for “real” pizza!
Walked another 15 miles today, over to the Roman Forum and the Coliseum and found a Warhol exhibit which was a great surprise. Sidestep, oops detour...another fab shoe store. OK, OK, four days, four shoes. Just sayin’. 

On the way back we stopped for our daily gelato then to hotel to catch Italy lose to Uruguay in soccer, not a lot of happy Italians tonight. I am starting to enjoy a daily cappuccino, something I never did at home. There is a distinct flavor difference here.
No, not done: back to our fantastic Art Hotel to change shoes then out again. This time to the Villa Borghese, the home of the Borghese family, the most powerful family of the Renaissance period, patron of the arts, extreme wealth as obvious in the mansion and park-like grounds. Opulence abounds. Back at hotel yet again and dressing for dinner with Michele’s Italian friends and packing for Capri tomorrow (can’t wait!).

Oh yes, how could I forget to post the shoe store of the day? Then there was the Smoke Me shop that I did NOT go into. I also believe there are tremendous opportunities here for entrepreneurs in deodorant and toilet paper, but that's another story. 
So, dear friends, another incredible day as we left the hotel by Mercedes to be driven to Capri.

Well, sorta. Raphael drove us to Positano for lunch and along the way showed us the birthplace of Hercules and an island owned by Rudolph Nureyev with tales to tell. Did not know that Positano was named for Poseidon or that Sorrento is where all that amazing mozzarella I've been consuming is from. And yes, I had a Limoncello, which if you don’t is as close to a sacrilege as you can get…and remember I went to all those churches.

The drive up the Amalfi Coast was nothing short of breathtaking. After lunch, drove to (no, not me, silly, we had a driver) Sorrento to catch the hydrofoil to Capri. 

Well!!! Well!!! I have been all over the world and Capri has just made it into my top three most beautiful along with Santorini and Monte Carlo. It is ridiculously, outrageously gorgeous. And our hotel has to be the best -  Hotel Punta Tragara
After checking in, we went to Anacapri…you guessed it…shopping, via a hot pink convertible taxi. Had sandals made by a cobbler, had our daily gelato and walked and walked and walked. We have done over 60 miles since we got to Italy. 

Back to hotel to change for dinner at Villa Verde then to the famous Quisisana Hotel for cappuccino as a fellow Vistage Chair Alan Weinstein walked by. Now really!! 
Tomorrow the beach, woo hop! La spiaggia! Buona Notte da Capri.

3 Sangrias, 1 Prosecco and 1 Limoncello plus 1000 steps up and down to the beach make this day in Capri one for the history books. OK now seriously, if there is another more beautiful place on earth, stand up now or forever hold your peace. Seriously, Capri!!!! 
Had a leisurely breakfast on terrace of hotel overlooking the Med. Then the steps!!! But so worth it. For a gal who cherishes “experiences” this was one of the best. 
La Fontelina Beach Club is all on volcanic rock, no sand, no beach, just fabulous rock formations dotted with beach chairs and mattresses (yes you read that right) Then what? More shopping, sillies:-) and time to explore more off beaten pathways on this incredible island. I picked tonight’s restaurant Le Camarelle which was perfection…beautiful, outdoors, Italian singers serenading us and perfect weather. I’m a happy camper:-)



Breakfast and lunch on the veranda of our gorgeous hotel Punta Tragara in Capri (which defies description it is sooooo beautiful) then to the spa, followed by a lazy day at the pool and a ride down the funicolare until…our private boat ride around the island with Franco.

I took over 100 photos, one more gorgeous than the next…the yachts, the volcanic formations, the crystal clear aquamarine waters, the homes and then…and then…and then…the green grotto, oh me oh my. Next we motored to a cove that shoots out water so they call it champagne cove and the water looks like a rainbow. The speaker is speechless! 
Took their fabulous fun open air taxi to Anacapri (Ana means above) so yes, it’s quite the elevation and had cocktails, (yes I did it again and many of you know I DON”T drink!) but had a Bellini at the Caesar Augustus Hotel, a Relais and Chateaux property which are my favorites around the world. 
Back to our hotel to dress for our last dinner in this magical paradise called Capri and dine at Mamma’s ristorante. 
What a week! Headed to Naples tomorrow then back to Rome for the night before heading home on Sunday (for 12 hours before I leave for CA). Buona Notte!