Mario and I decided we needed to get away, so we decided to explore more of Italy. For those vaccinated, Italy still requires a negative antigen test 48 hours before entry but no quarantine is needed.
We have visited Italy before, but this time we would be exploring Lake Garda and the Umbria/Tuscany regions. This time, I used AirBnB for the first time, which was a great experience and made traveling with the dogs easier. Before we left, I bought our vignette, which is our toll sticker for Austria and got our antigen tests done. No one ask for the antigen results at the borders, but glad I had them in case. Italy does have toll roads, so I had to make sure I had cash and coins, but they also accept credit cards.
Our adventure started Thursday morning. Our first stop was Lake Garda, which was about 7 hours away. We pass through Austria on our way to Italy. Austria is so beautiful and I enjoy every opportunity I get to drive thorough it. Here are some sights as we were driving.
The next morning, the dogs and I enjoyed the morning views of the vineyards. Then we enjoyed our picnic style breakfast. We picked up our breakfast box from the reception area. Inside there were different breakfast items for us to try. For the next day we could circle what we wanted for breakfast by using the menu on the lid.
After breakfast we headed towards the Sirmione peninsula located in Lake Garda. The dogs weren't allowed in the castle we wanted to see, so they stay in the air conditioned room in their pack and play crate. It was about 35 minutes drive and we found a parking lot close to the castle. I'm glad we got there early, because when we were leaving the parking lot was full. From there it was a short walk to the castle.
Our first stop was the Castillo Scaligero di Sirmione or Scaliger Castle. This lake side fortress was build around the middle of the 14th century. Following COVID regulations were we able to explore. We had to get our temperature taken before getting tickets, wear our masks inside and outside and follow a specific route. We got the combo tickets which was for the castle, Roman villa ruins and another museum for 14 euro each. Since we wanted to see the ruins, I figured it was best for the money. We arrived around 9:30, which perfect there was only a few people in front of us. Here is the website if you want to learn more about the castle.
From there we walked about 20 minutes toward the Grotte di Catullus and the archaeological museum of Sirmione. These ruins are of a Roman villa and are located in the tip of the Sirmione peninsula. Once inside we had to follow a specific path but we were still able to see the section of the villa and the surrounding lake. Here is the website if interested in learning more.
On the way back to the car, we stop for gelato, why not we are in Italy! After we paid for parking we headed towards the Ossuary Chapel of St. Martin which was about a 15 minutes drive. We were going to explore the Tower of San Martino Della Battaglia but we arrived at 11:55 and it closed at 12 till 2:30. So we did the chapel instead. The chapel has the bones of the thousands of soldiers killed in the Piedmontese and Austrians army during the battle which happened on June 24, 1859.
From there we headed home. For dinner that evening, we ordered a “taste nic” from the place we were staying at. It consisted of local products with a bottle of wine which is made on site. It was super yummy!
The next day we say good bye to the Lake Garda and hello to Tuscany. We would be heading towards our Forest cottage which is located in Monte Santa Maria Tiberina. We met our host and got a quick tour of the house. It has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, a family room, living room, a kitchen, and pool. One of the bathrooms had a washing machine which is a score. It is located in the middle of no where, so after turning off the main road, it’s was about a 20 minute drive down a gravel road to the house. There is a stream which runs along the property. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the pool.
We explored the city of Siena. It was about 1.5 hours from where we were staying. We found a parking garage close to the cathedral. After climbing a small hill and taking the escalator up to the top and then following the streets we arrived at the cathedral. Wow the outside was beautiful. We stood in line to get our tickets, which was a short wait. There were three different ticket choices, but I got the P-OPA PREV ticket which gave admission to the cathedral (Duomo) and library (Libreria Piccolomini, Museum dell’ Opera and Panorama dal Facciatone, Crypt, and Baptistery.Additional information can be found here.
After getting our tickets we headed towards the cathedral, which was beautiful. The floor of the cathedral is covered with marble mosaic which is uncovered specific times during the year. The week we saw it was the first week it was uncovered, that is what you call perfect timing!
Next we explored the Piccolomini Library which has frescoes painted by Pinturicchio which depicts the scenes from the life of Pope Plus II. Also there are gradual from the 15th and 16th century which are books containing hymns or chant.
Next, I explored the Panorama dal Facciatone, which was suppose to the facade of the addition which was suppose to be added to expand the church but it was never finished. It is now a viewport looking over the city. After climbing the stairs you are given two different levels and the views they offer.
We explored the crypt area before we headed towards the Piazza del Campo. There we ate lunch which consisted of lasagna and pizza. After that we headed back to the car.
Today we visited the Cascate del Mulino thermal bath. The bath were about 3 hours from the cottage and located near the city of Saturnia. The drive consisted of many back country Italian roads and some pretty views. We arrived around 11 and it was already super busy. Since we had the dogs we didn't go swimming, I just soaked my feet. The thermal bath consists of sulphuric waters rising from the ground at 37.5 C or 99.5 F creating the thermal baths. I would definitely recommend arriving early or staying closer so you could arrive at an earlier time.
Today we visited a dog beach located in San Vincenzo which is located on the western side of Italy. It was about 3 hours from the cottage but we took the toll roads this time instead of the back country Italian roads. We arrive around 9:30 and found parking across the street. I had reserved 2 chairs and umbrella so we can enjoy our time at the beach. We were in the front row and had a great view of the sea. This was the first time Trooper and Sissy's first time at the beach even better it was the Mediterranean Sea.I tired to get to dogs into the sea. Once the wave came on shore Trooper was scared and run away. Sissy did take a few waves before she was done. There were mostly big dogs at the beach which caused ours to be scared, so the dogs spent a few hours just chilling by our chairs enjoying the smells.
We spend the next two day relaxing around the cottage. Saturday morning we started our commute home. Here are some views as we headed towards our next hotel.
We would be spending the night at Hotel Lillá which is located next to Lago di Terlago or Lake Terlago. It was about 15 minutes off the highway. The staff was so friendly and very welcoming of the dogs. Here are some pictures of the area around the hotel and the lake.
We ate at the Ristorante Pizzeria Lillà, which was the restaurant next door. They welcome the dogs and even let us eat inside the restaurant with the dogs, which is a first for us! Glad we got there early, right when they opened, because it was super busy when we left. We enjoy lasagna and pizza again.
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast which is normally buffet style but with COVID it isn't permitted. So the night before we went online and ordered what we wanted for breakfast. They let us sit outside so we could bring the dogs along. After that we headed home hitting traffic due to construction. Another great trip in the books!
A teacher who loves traveling the world.