Feb 23rd
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Jaunts about Northern Italy

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Jaunts about Northern Italy
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Jaunts about Northern Italy

Thanks to my brother's passion for the 16th century Italian architect, Palladio, Andrew and I and our two sons were invited last summer to join Steve in Italy to celebrate his 50th birthday. Being an architect and urban designer his idea of celebrating in style was to rent a restored Palladian villa, Villa SaraceLake Molveno in the Dolomitesno, for two weeks. The villa slept sixteen, so Steve and his family and my parents stayed for two weeks and our family of four and various friends stayed for either the first or second week. This meant two birthday parties for Steve!

Because Villa Saraceno was booked far in advance we were able to find great deals on flights (just over $400 for Andrew and me and the boys flying on EasyJet out of Gatwick to Venice San Marco) and on car rental so we decided to extend our Italian vacation to include a week in the Northern Lakes Region.

We flew into San Marco Airport and drove about two hours west of Venice to Noventa Vicentina. We stopped here for a quick lunch and we found a typical Italian trattoria where, for just Euros 38 for the four of us, we enjoyed a basic but very tasty Italian meal in a room filled with locals-mostly Italian men on their lunch break. It was an authentic Italian experience! There are plenty of these small eateries tucked away where you least expect to find them and worth seeking out if you want to experience the real Italy.


After lunch we drove to Villa Saraceno at Finale, just south of Vicenza, and were amazed at how gorgeous the place was. Because the villa was never completed, this one, unlike other Palladian structures, is asymmetrical in design. We learned that Villa Saraceno sat empty for a number of years and then was bought and restored by the UK-based Landmark Trust.

The Trust still owns and manages the property. The more historical parts of the villa are open to the public for two hours every Wednesday afternoon during the summer so, at that time, the current renters are asked to make themselves scarce.The lawns of Villa Saraceno.
Villa Saraceno sleeps only sixteen and the Land-mark Trust is rigid about this. My only complaint was that the villa has no swimming pool.


With such spectacular accommodations, however, we would have been happy to just hang out at the villa and listen to the cicadas sing but it's close to so much Italian art and history that we took acouple of side treks.

Our first stop was Verona, the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. We first visited the Piazza Bra and its magnificent Roman architecture, home of Verona's famous July/Aug opera season. Entering Piazza Bra we were surrounded by towering sets from the opera Aida and we envied those who had tickets to one of the performances. Check the Verona web site and book ahead if you're an opera buff.


Where was Solomon born?

This is Solomon, a new born Humpback whale. He provided hours of entertainment for our group of whale watchers. Where was Solomon born? Click here to find out.

Tips, Tricks & Tactics

...ideas to consider 

Tips on how to safely play under the summer's sun
and in the winter's cold.



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