Monthly Archives: September 2018

Rome Day 2

This morning, we met our guide Nadia for a private three-hour guided tour to the Vatican to visit  the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.  Again, we were in awe of the vastness and beauty of all that we saw!

We returned to the Hotel shortly before 1pm, which left time for independent exploration to enjoy Rome’s fashions, cafes and galleries and had our final dinner at La Grotte Restaurant.  Nila saw the piano and entertained us with a few songs.
Overnight: Hotel Stendhal, Rome

Rome Day 1

This morning, we met our guide Lucia for a private three-hour guided tour to explore the sites of Ancient Rome. We toured the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon.  It was surreal to be standing in front of and walking through so much history!

The afternoon gave us more free time to experience the shops and local sights and this evening we had dinner at Trattoria Tritone not too far from our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Stendhal, Rome

Tuscany Day 8 – Florence

Today was ours to indulge in our own Florence experience. . Some of the group went to the  Uffizi Gallery to admire the spectacular collection of Italian art and to visit the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David.  Those of us who didn’t go to the gallery took time to discover the piazzas, outdoor markets and elegant shopping.

After the gallery and some shopping we met on the terrace of the hotel to celebrate Patricia’s birthday.

This evening we enjoyed a memorable birthday/farewell dinner for the 6 ladies that will be heading home in the morning at Cucinia Torcicoda
Overnight: Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci, Florence

September 21st Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Royal Mile

We arrived in the City of Edinburgh. Love the cobbled streets and walked the Royal Mile. We ventured up to the Edinburgh Castle, a mighty fortress sitting on top of the Castle Hill and overlooks the entire city. We visited the National War Museum, an amazingly thorough source of inspiration for the Outlander Series.

Tuscany Day 7 – Florence

This morning we headed off to Florence, one of the loveliest cities in the world. Narrow alleyways, expansive piazzas, elegant buildings, and the River Arno plus all that spectacular art combine to make this one of the world’s great ‘must-sees’. It was a short drive to Florence.  We had a few hours to explore on our own before joining our guide for a walking tour of the city’s essentials. We discovered the Ponte Vecchio, the Piazza della Signoria, the Duomo and Santa Croce Church.

After returning to the hotel to freshen up we went out for a lovely meal at Bistro Del Mare
Overnight: Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci, Florence

Tuscany Day 6 – San Gimignano and Cooking Class

Our morning was spent exploring the market in San Gimignano.  San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. Known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture, unique in the preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses, which, with its hilltop setting and encircling walls, form “an unforgettable skyline”. Within the walls, the well-preserved buildings include notable examples of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture, with outstanding examples of secular buildings as well as churches.  The town also is known for saffron, the Golden Ham, and its white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced from the ancient variety of Vernaccia grape which is grown on the sandstone hillsides of the area. 


This afternoon, we travelled to the Querceto de Castellina Wine Estate to meet Chef Laura and take part in a cooking class.  Chef Laura is a lovely woman who has a passion for cooking and has a wonderful sense of humor. Laura shared her recipes with us so we can enjoy a Tuscan meal at home.

After the class we sat down outdoors for a lovely 4 course meal with the most magnificent view of the countryside.  The group agreed this was absolutely another highlight of the trip.
Overnight: NH Hotel, Siena

Tuscany Day 5 – Siena

It’s was market day in Siena today and the streets around our hotel were filled with stalls and street vendors selling clothes, shoes, bags, household goods, fresh fruit and vegetables. We spent the morning exploring the market independently.

This afternoon, with our guide Demetra, we did a walking tour of Siena visiting the imposing green and white marble Cathedral Siena,  and  the famous shell-shaped Piazza del Campo where twice a year they hold horse races.

After heading back to the hotel to freshen up we headed off to a great dinner at Enoteca Compagnia dei Vinattieri
Overnight: NH Hotel, Siena

September 19th Culloden Battlefield, Cawdor Castle

We soaked up the rich history and haunting atmosphere of the last battle ever fought on British soil, Culloden Battlefield. This is also the spot that Jamie and Claire said their goodbyes :( Then we ventured to Clava Cairns, one of Scotland’s most evocative stone circle sites. Also we visited Cawdor Castle dating from the late 14th century, built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor.

Tuscany Day 4 – Pienza and Montalcino

Southern Tuscany offers a very different, and no less spectacular, scenery. Today we enjoyed one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful stretches of road as we drove south to the Val d’Orcia. Here we found barren hills, dotted with cypress trees and stone farmhouses. We visited the remote, serene Abbey of Sant’Antimo and nearby Montalcino, once an impregnable fortress and now the centre of Brunello wine production. We attended a wine tasting and enjoyed a light lunch at the Altesino winery after touring the facility.

In the afternoon we visited Pienza.  There are delightful little shops and cafe’s filled with goodies including beautiful linens, footwear and clothing, and of course great coffee.

The later afternoon took us to Podere Il Casale.  Here we sampled various cheeses including the region’s famous Pecorino cheese.  Podere Il Casale is a local artisanal cheese maker.

After touring the farm we enjoyed a fabulous dinner on this countryside trattoria.  The group agreed the “farm to table dinner”  was the highlight of the day.    Podere il Casale
Overnight: NH Hotel, Siena