Travel and Escape : Europe
Monday, December 19, 2005
Review:
As a frequent guest on my tours once said, before you travel anywhere else you always have to ask yourself, "why not Italy". With incredible diversity of scenery, terrain, food, wines, and SHOPPING take a look at some of our favorites when planning your next visit.

A few places we recommend.. In Florence: Great small B&B/family residence with beautiful rooms in the heart of Florence (no elevator so light on the luggage) Locanda de Ciompi For more of a hotel experience, we recommend the Hotel Silla, excellent service, rooms, terrace and good location. Good restaurants in the area for a local experience: Osteria dei Benci, Osteria del Bricco.

Off to the Hills! Great hill villages in Tuscany away from the crowds: Montefollonico: very small but with 2-3 EXCELLENT restaurants, wine bars and shops. Our good friends property outside of Montalpulciano, you can walk to Montalpulciano for lunch (about 2 hours), come back for a nap, have an aperitif on the deck and enjoy some of the best food we have tasted in Italy. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Website: Locanda la Costa Manager: Paolo & Paola Masini For a bit more action, try the home of Brunello Wines: Vino Brunello di Montalcino! In Montalcino: more Italians vacation here than americans so it is a lively, delightful hill village. Great restaurants, wine bars, shops, a castle (with Burnello tastings offered) and great access to all the more popular tourist villages (Sienna, Montalpulciano, Pienza etc) We enjoy.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

And finally, for a fascinating unique stay visit the town of Bagno Vignoni (old Roman Spa town with the water-filled square) here we recommend Locanda del Loggiato Very small B&B with 6 wonderful rooms. Owned by two sisters. At night enjoy their wine bar across the street.
Send us you personal favorites: Tour companies, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, places you would tell your (good) friends about...

Best Time to Travel:
May/June
September/October
Anytime!!

Reviewed by Kathy Dragon

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Monday, October 17, 2005
Travel Time:
July 2005

Review:
The village of Trakai, the medieval Capital of Grand Lithuanian Dukedom situated among lakes, is one of the most popular attractions in Lithuania. Our small group enjoyed the evening outdoor opera that takes place within the castle during summer evenings.

The castles of Trakai are the best known works of defensive architecture in Lithuania. The old town of Trakai, which includes the Island and the Peninsula Castles, surrounded by lakes, is one of the most impressive and picturesque locations in Europe. Here still reside small national minority of Karaites, who were brought from the Crimea by the Grand Lithuanian Duke Vytautas. Vytautas the Great is considered the national hero in Lithuania mainly due to his victorious commandment of Grunwald battle (Zalgiris) in 1410.

After visiting Trakai Island Castle, which contains the Museum of History and exposition of Applied Arts, we walked to Uztrakis Park on the bank of the lake and joined locals for a swim. Our walk continued along the banks of the lake Galve to the Uztrakis Park where we hitched a ride from a restored medieval vessel Kurenas waiting for us and sailed around the castle and islands.

Our afternoon adventure included an trip by airboat to the bog and then a VERY muddy bog exploration...well, that will have to be another entry as the Bog Adventure now goes down in history as one of the strangest events I have ever taken part in grin



Best Time to Travel:
Summer, ideally during the season of the song festivals

Reviewed by Kathy Dragon

Read all articles by Kathy Dragon
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