Dreamtrip: Paradise Island, Bahamas

Where to Stay, Things to Do, and Places to Eat on Paradise Island

I felt like I needed some beach time in the winter, so I booked a trip through my vacation club, World Ventures, the largest private club in the world.  The club provides pre-packaged trips as well as a booking engine for flight, hotels, VRBO, cruises, and rental cars.  It also includes an online shopping mall with virtually every retailer as well as discounts at local restaurants and events.

I didn’t want to have to think about anything for this relaxing vacation, so I picked a four-night trip to the Bahamas.  I flew from Denver while my friend Max came from Dallas.  Miraculously, both of our flights were on time and our bags came off the carousels next to each other in baggage claim, so we were off to paradise quickly! Continue reading “Dreamtrip: Paradise Island, Bahamas”

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Luscious Las Vegas…Restaurant Reviews

November 11, 2017

Some of us girls who met in Italy reconnected in Las Vegas for a mini reunion as Mary had a conference following the weekend.  Virginia and I got a nice deal at the Venetian which included a resort credit at its restaurants.  As such, we found ourselves eating alot!  Below are a variety of restaurants we tried over the weekend:

Sugar Cane (The Venetian)

We ordered breakfast at Sugar Cane and it was quite good.  I got avocado toast topped with roasted corn and an egg while Virginia ordered Huevos Rancheros which was presented in a very unique way.  The food and service were both excellent.

Lagasse’s Stadium (The Palazzo)

Lagasse’s Stadium, one of Emeril Lagasse’s creations was recently voted the best sports bar in Vegas.  Emeril was one of the first chef’s I knew of in my 20’s as one of my boyfriends loved his show…BAM!! I was sort of excited about trying the place.  The staff warned us that there was currently a $25 minimum per person.  That was fine with us as we knew a burger and a beer would likely be that much.

We were walked to the back to sit at a two-top with a view of several large TVs.  Auburn was playing Georgia.  We were sitting next to Georgia fans who jumped and shouted at every decent Georgia play, so while I was sorry for them that their afternoon quickly turned disappointing as Auburn trounced Georgia, I was happy to have a quieter lunch!

I couldn’t really figure out why the Lagasse’s Stadium was voted the #1 sports bar.  I found the food and service to be mediocre.  Virginia ordered a crab cake and I ordered chicken on a waffle.  She finished her meal before I even got mine.  The waitress said she brought the crab cake out first because the chicken takes a long time.  There was no warning for the wait, but from our perspective we felt eating at the same time would have been more appropriate.  In addition, the cajun fries didn’t taste cajun at all.

As she took our order, she also warned us there would be a $50 for the next game.  This was a bit confusing to us…all we wanted was lunch.  Once she realized we weren’t staying for the next game, the subject was dropped.  Perhaps these minimums is what makes the sports bar a favorite among football fans, as it keeps out lots of people and the die hard fans get booths with their own TV’s and a sports book.  To us, the place served a purpose…sustenance, but we didn’t find it to be the best.

Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant

For dinner one night, we visited Ferraro’s, a very popular restaurant in Las Vegas off the strip.  It was packed at 6:30pm!  Virginia is friends with the owner so we were treated like queens.  Ferraro’s pasta is made in house, its fish is Safe Harbor certified, and its beef is all natural.  It’s fine quality ingredients and amazing service made for a lovely dinner!  Between the five of us, we ordered carpaccio, soup, lasagna, pasta topped with wild boar ragu, dover sole, and more.  We were surprised by a tasty dessert as well.  What a delightful evening!

Bouchon Bistro (The Venetian)

YUM!  The pastries at Bouchon Bistro (the restaurant) and Bouchon Bakery (a to go stall) are mouth watering good.  We had both the almond croissant and a sticky bun and weren’t disappointed.  While dining at the Bistro, we ordered eggs any style and we got so much food it was ridiculous.  The meal came with a pastry, toast, sausage, bacon, fritters, coffee and juice.  We could hardly eat half of it.  If we hadn’t had the resort credit, I’m not sure we would have sat down for a $25 breakfast, but it was good!

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (The Venetian)

We tried coming here twice.  The first time at 2pm on Saturday and there was at least a 20 minute wait for two people so we went elsewhere.  The next day we tried again at 11:30am…there was even a longer wait for a table, but the lounge area had some first come, first served seating, so we ate there.  Given the popularity, I expected the food to be incredible.  Neither of us found that to be true.

I ordered an egg white omelette with artichokes and peppers while Virginia ordered the smoked chicken salad.  My meal could have used salt while Virginia thought her chicken was salty.  The basket of biscuits were OK, but honestly, the far less busy Sugar Cane situated across the hall was much better to us.  Of course, we didn’t order the signature dish…chicken and waffles…but I had already had that meal once and the portion was large enough to share.  Perhaps the large portions or the inviting atmosphere was the draw.

Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge (The Bellagio)

Yellowtail is by far the best restaurant I’ve been to in Vegas.  I think this was my fourth or fifth time to come here, and I rarely eat at the same place twice as I like to try new things.  Every thing about it is great!

The service: wonderful!

The sushi: Creative and off the charts good.

The Big Eye Tuna Pizza is the most popular item on the menu and despite the name, just order it!!!!  I ordered two for our table of six, and my guests ordered another one.  The name is a complete misnomer.

Another favorite roll was the Mile High Roll and the most creative roll might have been the one with pop rocks.  There was another roll with short ribs with cole-slaw that was also a treat.

The atmosphere: Amazing…get a table on the patio and watch the fountains.

After dinner and enjoying the fountains, be sure to visit the Bellagio’s atrium to see its exhibit.  It is always wonderful!  I particularly like the Christmas display, though the Thanksgiving display during our trip was quite nice.

Cheffini’s (Downtown Container Park)

We decided to venture to downtown where a new container park has been built with shipping containers.  Along with some interesting art (a locks of love heart and a giant preying mantis), is a variety of stores, restaurants, bars, music stage, and jungle gym park.

We just needed something quick before we headed to the airport so we tried Cheffini’s.  We weren’t in the mood for gourmet hotdogs for which it is known.  Instead we ordered sliders.  They were fair.

These are only a few of the thousands of restaurants in Las Vegas, but it’s a start.  ETB

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

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Want more details, click here:http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/featured

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here:http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

Shop small business Saturday, 11/25/17.

For notecards, key chains, or photographs, visit Notable Notecards or Niche Notecards on Etsy. A portion of the sales are donated to charity and a travel story is associated with each one.

Tuscan Towns is Now Available on GPSMyCity with an Offline GPS Guided Map

Announcing another blog post is now available on GPSMyCity with an offline GPS guided map!

You may wonder, “What’s the big deal? I can read the travel post on your blog.”

Well, yes, assuming you have access to the internet, you can read my article on my blog.

But what if you don’t have access to the internet? Or you don’t have a good data plan in country you are visiting?  How do you find those famous sites or the corner pub?

Don’t worry!  Now there is an app for that!

The new travel app concept offered by GPSMyCity is quite useful. GPSMyCity produces city walk apps for 750 cities worldwide. Want to see the sites in Paris? There’s an app for that. Want to try different restaurants in Malaga, Spain? There’s an app for that. You can download each travel article for FREE and read it offline whenever you like…in the airport, on the plane or street corner, or wherever!

20161102_045928000_ios-small

Should you wish to have a GPS-guided tour and map along with the article, all you have to do is upgrade for $1.99.  The map will take you right to that famous site you wanted see. Or what about that restaurant you’ve been wandering in circles to find for the last 30 minutes, the map will point you in the right direction.  What a time saver and game changer to navigate cities without using data or the internet!

20161102_050852000_ios

New Article NOW AVAILABLE:

Tuscan Towns

DON’T FORGET THE REST OF MY ARTICLES THAT ARE AVAILABLE ON GPSMyCity:

Africa

Casablanca…The White House!

El Jadida…A Coastal Town in Morocco

Excellent Time in Essaouira

Amazing Medina in Marrakesh, Morocco

Maneuvering Marrakesh

Rambling Around Rabat

The Arctic

Longyearbyen and Its Outskirts (Norway)

Asia

A Day Tour of Bangkok, Thailand

A Walking Tour of Narita, Japan

Monastery, Museum, and Music in Mongolia

Two and a Half Days in Seoul, South Korea

Central and South America

18 Hour Layover in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Strolling Around Santiago, Chile

Tips for Planning your Hiking Trip to Patagonia (Chile and Argentina)

The Markets and Cathedrals of Granada, Nicaragua

Cuba

An American in Cuba!

Cienfuegos and Trinidad, Cuba

Cuban Farms…How to Roll a Habano!

Las Terrazas and Vinales… A Treat for Nature Lovers

Treasures of Trinidad

Trinidad to Havana and What Falls in Between

The Streets of Habana Vieja and Fusterlandia – Part I

The Streets of Habana Vieja and Fusterlandia – Part II

Europe

Castles in Copenhagen, Denmark

Cycling in Copenhagen, Denmark

Loved Tallinn, Estonia!

Adventures in Paris, France

Adventures in Paris, France Part 2

The Coastal Trail from Monterosso to Vernazza, Italy

Rounding Out Cinque Terre…Riomaggiore and Corniglia, Italy

A Day in Montepulciano, Italy

Three Days in Sorrento, Italy

Oslo, Norway and the Outskirts

Cruising Around Gdansk, Poland

Visiting Bornholm, Poland

Imperial St. Petersburg, Russia

18 Hours in Madrid, Spain…Mostly Dining

Sightseeing in Stockholm, Sweden

The Middle East

Dubai, UAE and Its International Appeal

North America

Tour of Tombstone, Arizona

Denver Brewery Tour, Colorado

Two Days in Durango, Colorado

Eating Our Way Through New Orleans, Louisiana

On and Off the Vegas Strip, Nevada

Things To Do Around Boulder City, Nevada

Adventure in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Exploring the San Antonio Missions, Texas

A Long Weekend in Washington, D.C.

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here:http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/featured

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here:http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

SHOP

For notecards and key chains visit My Shop on this website or Etsy.  A portion of the sales are donated to charity and a travel story is associated with each one.

 

A Day in Montepulciano, Italy is Now Available on GPSMyCity with an Offline GPS Guided Map

Announcing another blog post is now available on GPSMyCity with an offline GPS guided map!

You may wonder, “What’s the big deal? I can read the travel post on your blog.”

Well, yes, assuming you have access to the internet, you can read my article on my blog.

But what if you don’t have access to the internet? Or you don’t have a good data plan in country you are visiting?  How do you find those famous sites or the corner pub?

Don’t worry!  Now there is an app for that!

The new travel app concept offered by GPSMyCity is quite useful. GPSMyCity produces city walk apps for 750 cities worldwide. Want to see the sites in Paris? There’s an app for that. Want to try different restaurants in Malaga, Spain? There’s an app for that. You can download each travel article for FREE and read it offline whenever you like…in the airport, on the plane or street corner, or wherever!

20161102_045928000_ios-small

Should you wish to have a GPS-guided tour and map along with the article, all you have to do is upgrade for $1.99.  The map will take you right to that famous site you wanted see. Or what about that restaurant you’ve been wandering in circles to find for the last 30 minutes, the map will point you in the right direction.  What a time saver and game changer to navigate cities without using data or the internet!

20161102_050852000_ios

New Article NOW AVAILABLE:

A Day in Montepulciano, Italy

DON’T FORGET THE REST OF MY ARTICLES THAT ARE AVAILABLE ON GPSMyCity:

Africa

Casablanca…The White House!

El Jadida…A Coastal Town in Morocco

Excellent Time in Essaouira

Amazing Medina in Marrakesh, Morocco

Maneuvering Marrakesh

Rambling Around Rabat

The Arctic

Longyearbyen and Its Outskirts (Norway)

Asia

A Day Tour of Bangkok, Thailand

A Walking Tour of Narita, Japan

Monastery, Museum, and Music in Mongolia

Two and a Half Days in Seoul, South Korea

Central and South America

18 Hour Layover in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Strolling Around Santiago, Chile

Tips for Planning your Hiking Trip to Patagonia (Chile and Argentina)

The Markets and Cathedrals of Granada, Nicaragua

Cuba

An American in Cuba!

Cienfuegos and Trinidad, Cuba

Cuban Farms…How to Roll a Habano!

Las Terrazas and Vinales… A Treat for Nature Lovers

Treasures of Trinidad

Trinidad to Havana and What Falls in Between

The Streets of Habana Vieja and Fusterlandia – Part I

The Streets of Habana Vieja and Fusterlandia – Part II

Europe

Castles in Copenhagen, Denmark

Cycling in Copenhagen, Denmark

Loved Tallinn, Estonia!

Adventures in Paris, France

Adventures in Paris, France Part 2

The Coastal Trail from Monterosso to Vernazza, Italy

Rounding Out Cinque Terre…Riomaggiore and Corniglia, Italy

Three Days in Sorrento, Italy

Oslo, Norway and the Outskirts

Cruising Around Gdansk, Poland

Visiting Bornholm, Poland

Imperial St. Petersburg, Russia

18 Hours in Madrid, Spain…Mostly Dining

Sightseeing in Stockholm, Sweden

The Middle East

Dubai, UAE and Its International Appeal

North America

Tour of Tombstone, Arizona

Denver Brewery Tour, Colorado

Two Days in Durango, Colorado

Eating Our Way Through New Orleans, Louisiana

On and Off the Vegas Strip, Nevada

Things To Do Around Boulder City, Nevada

Adventure in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Exploring the San Antonio Missions, Texas

A Long Weekend in Washington, D.C.

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here:http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/featured

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here:http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

SHOP

For notecards and key chains visit My Shop on this website or Etsy.  A portion of the sales are donated to charity and a travel story is associated with each one.

 

Fonteverde Thermal Spa in San Casciano Dei Bagni

September 17, 2017

What a lovely way to spend our last day in Tuscany…relaxing!  Today we visited the award-winning Fonteverde Thermal Spa.  Fonteverde was once a renaissance palace for the Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici.  Now it is a resort which overlooks the Val d’Orcia.  It is set atop a natural hot springs.  Visitors may enjoy the main pool, pay a premium to try additional pools of different temperatures, or select from a variety of treatments.

Most of our group paid extra to pick from a variety of pools, while a few of us hung out in the lower pool.  All pools had waterfalls and fountains which could be used to massage the body.  We arrived early and had most of the peaceful atmosphere to ourselves.

After our visit to the hot springs, we stopped in the nearby town, San Casciano Dei Bagni which owes its existence to the hot springs.  The village which offers lovely views of the countryside is also home to an excellent restaurant, Daniela.  We enjoyed the wonderful weather as we dined on the patio.  Our first course, a saccottino, was superb.  I can’t imagine the number of calories I consumed after digging into this crispy bag filled with potatoes, cheese, and ham and placed in a bowl of cream.  The presentation was fantastic!  Daniela served us a large salad with chicken for the second course…this was a welcome change from the normal foods.  Finally, we spooned pistachio and chocolate gelato into our mouths for dessert.  A diet is coming soon!

After our decadent lunch, we wandered around the small town.  A few ladies spotted some antique jewelry they liked through the window of a store that was closed, but a quick phone call summoned the owner to town within twenty minutes!  While they purchased their wares, a few of us checked out the church, Oratorio di Sant’Antonio and weaved through the back streets.  I love seeing the old walls, doors, windows, flower pots, and light posts.  What a nice day!  ETB

 

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here:http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/featured

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here:http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

For notecards, key chains, or photographs, visit Notable Notecards or Niche Notecards on Etsy. A portion of the sales are donated to charity and a travel story is associated with each one.

A Day in Florence, Italy

September 16, 2017

Today we took a roadtrip from Fabro to Florence.  We were fortunate that our drivers could drop us off in Piazza della Repubblica which is centrally located between all the attractions.

The Piazza della Repubblica once served as the City’s main food market, but now is surrounded by nice cafés.  There is also a fun carousel for kids to ride.  We didn’t stay in the piazza long, as we had an agenda; for most people in the group it was shopping.  For me, I just wanted to see the sites.

First, our group headed toward the Duomo or Santa Maria del Fiora to see the City’s tallest and most famous building.  Its dome, designed by Brunelleschi and finished in 1463, was the largest of its time.  Its outer shell is supported by an inner shell.

We visited the inside of the cathedral a little later in day along with a steady line of tourists.  The line flowed quickly and soon, the cathedral cleared out so we could enjoy nice views of the nave and dome.  On the left-hand side of the church was a line to climb up the dome.  Outside the exit, was a line to climb the Campanile.  Had I realized these were options, I might have entered the Cathedral earlier as the crowd was much smaller when we were wandering around the outside upon arrival.

Next to the Duomo is the Baptistry with its distinguished bronze doors, dates back to the 4th century making it one of Florence’s oldest buildings.  The doors were commissioned to Ghiberti in 1401 after he won a competition against leading artists such as Donatello and Brunelleshci.  The panels were so different form Florentine art at the time, that the works are regarded as the beginning of the Renaissance.

From the Duomo we headed over to the leather market at Mercato Centrale, just past San Lorenzo Basilica.  Many of the ladies found purses for $25 and a variety of belts.  I almost got a purse, but of course the one I liked the most cost three times the majority of the handbags on the market.  I later learned, the quality of the $25 purses wasn’t great as the color began flaking off in a day!

I had enough of shopping so I talked Joy into visiting the Basilica di San Lorenzo and the connected Medici Chapels.  We only poked our head inside the Basilica as we entered a side door only for worshipers.  We went around the back, however, and paid the 8 euro entry fee to see the Medici Chapels.

The chapels were built in the 16th and 17th centuries as extensions to the church for the purpose of celebrating the Medicis, both parishioners of the church and Grand Dukes of Tuscany.  The octagonal chapel named Cappella dei Principi (or Chapel of Princes) is a mausoleum.  Tombs of six Medici Grand Dukes are spaced around the walls which are inlaid with semiprecious stone.

A corridor leads from the Cappella dei Principi to the New Sacristy which features statues carved by Michelangelo between 1520 and 1534, including the Madonna and Child. Lorenzo the Magnificent is buried here along with his murdered brother, third son, and grandson.

After visiting the chapels, we met up with the group who found more scarves to buy at a vendor on the edge of Piazza della Repubblica to walk to lunch at I’Cche’ c’e’ c’e’.  The restaurant was absolutely spectacular!  I highly recommend it.  The chef won a competition among several others and was rewarded for recreating Renassiance food.

 

We began with truffles and lard on toast.  I LOVE truffles, so I was in heaven eating this dish though it was very rich, so only one piece of toast was probably enough.  Next came soup ribollita which was divine.  I may try to recreate this dish.  Our third course was pasta with radicchio.  I couldn’t imagine this would be good, but I was wrong!  The pasta was excellent.  Our main course included meat, potatoes, and greens.  The potatoes were amazing.  Of course we weren’t through yet.  We finished with a fig and apple tart…delicious!  After this feast, we certainly didn’t need dinner!

From lunch we headed to Ponte Vecchio and the Pitti Palace.  Along the way, we stopped at the Piazza della Signoria.  The piazza is popular among the locals and tourists and is filled with statues that commemorate historical events that took place in the city.

Michelangelo’s famous David statue (a copy replaces the original), represents triumph over tyranny.  The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna was carved out of a single block of marble.

After admiring the statues, we continued to Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in the city.  The bridge, constructed in 1345, is the only bridge in Florence to have survived the bombings in World War II.  Once home to blacksmiths, butchers, and tanners who used the river for waste, it now features jewelers and goldsmiths.  I just liked the fact there were vendors in buildings on a bridge!

From the bridge, I wandered over to the Pitti Palace which was originally built for banker Luca Pitti who wanted to out do the Medicis.  Ironically, the building costs bankrupted Pitti, and the Medicis purchased the palace!  Now it exhibits many of the Medici collections and includes the Boboli Gardens.  I had hoped to visit the gardens, but the line to purchase tickets looked about twenty to thirty minutes long which would have only left me about thirty minutes to explore.  While disappointed to miss, just sitting in front of the palace is a nice place to people watch.

Soon we had to return to Piazza dei Repubblica for pick up, but not before we made a quick stop at Il Porcellino to rub its snout to ensure a return trip to Florence!

One place I would have liked to have visited, but didn’t as I ran out of time was Santa Croce where Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli are buried.  They actually have more meaning to me than the Medicis so I probably would have liked it better than the Medici Chapels though the chapels were beautiful.  Had I cut out shopping and shortened lunch by one hour, I suspect I could have seen all the sites mentioned, but I would have been on a march rather than enjoying the company of all the girls.  Florence is wonderful and leaving a few unseen sites will be an excuse to return!  ETB

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here:http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/featured

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here:http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

For notecards, key chains, or photographs, visit Notable Notecards or Niche Notecards on Etsy. A portion of the sales are donated to charity and a travel story is associated with each one.

 

 

Tuscan Towns

While staying on the Tuscany/Umbria border, we took day trips to many towns of different sizes.  I think Pienza may have stuck out as my favorite, though each had its own unique qualities and specialties.

PIENZA

Pienza, located in the Val d’Orcia, was previously named Corsignano, and first referenced in documents from the 9th Century.  Corsignano was the birthplace of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini who later became Pope Pius II from 1458-1464.  Once Pope, Piccolomini rebuilt his home village into a Renaissance town and named it after himself…Pienza.

Pienza’s piazza is bordered by four buildings…Palazzo Piccolomini, The Duomo, Palazzo Vescovile, and Palazzo Comunale (the town hall).  The Palazzo Piccolomini currently operates as museum.  With only two hours in the town and beautiful weather, I didn’t go in, but little did I know it was home to a rooftop garden!  The 7 euro entry fee with a free audio guide might have worth the price of admission.

well in front of the Palazzo

Instead I picked to visit The Duomo, its Baptistry called the Church of San Giovanni, and its underground labyrinth.  The Duomo, also known as the Cathedral of Pienza, was built atop the old, crumbling Church of Santa Maria in Corsignano.  Fragments of the church are on display in the Baptistry across from the high altar designed by Bernardo Rosellini.

The labyrinth, below the Baptistry, was creepy!  Narrow corridors and many, many flights of stairs led in multiple directions.  Fortunately, much of the area was closed off as the long hallways weaving in different ways did give me the sense I could get lost! In the labyrinth was also a neat photography exhibition.

From the piazza, I followed the main street past a variety of shops to the end of the walled city where I turned right on the last small street which took me to a beautiful view of Val d’Orcia.  A path paralleled the valley and the outer part of the town which I followed back to the Piazza.

After this, I zig-zagged around the charming side streets.  I strolled past cute residences, cool doors, lovely flower pots, decorative windows, religious shrines and through small squares as I admired this quaint, Renaissance town.  While I wandered around the side streets, most of the rest of the group shopped.  Pienza is known for its cheese, but the seasoned shoppers in our group found deals on scarves, dish towels, jewelry, and ceramics.

Doors

Windows

Other

MONTICCHIELLO

We finished our scheduled itinerary early one day, so we made an extra stop to Monticchiello, an unspoiled, ancient village in the heart of Tuscany.  The village is tucked behind its old towers and walls that kept enemies at bay.  The town is best known for its lovely views of the Tuscan hillside and its summer theater productions performed by the townspeople themselves!  The village is home to a church, charming balconies, archways and just a few shops that the avid shoppers in our group didn’t miss!

ORVIETO (an Umbrian town, not Tuscan)

Orvieto sits atop a cliff of tufo and is home to a spectacular cathedral, Duomo di Orvieto or the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta.  Our drivers drove us all the way to the Piazza alongside the Cathedral, though most visitors start at the bottom of the volcanic hill and take an escalator up to the medieval town.

This 14th-century, Gothic style church, commissioned by Pope Nicholas IV is absolutely magnificent.  The outside of the church is carved in figurines which represent different sections of the Bible.  This way illiterates of the time were still able to read.  The first panel on the far left explains the Book of Genesis.  The second panel displays stories from the Bible.  The third panel depicts the Life of Christ, and the fourth panel shows the Final Judgment.

Inside the church is just as spectacular and is worth the nominal entry fee.  While the main part of the church is lovely, the frescoes found in the Chapel of San Brizio to the right of the nave are the most special.  These frescoes were painted by Luca Signorelli whose works were an inspiration to Michelangelo.

After visiting the church, we ventured Via Duomo and Corso Cavour to shop.  The shoppers in the group didn’t want to risk missing any stores as they sometimes close after lunch.  The shoppers picked out scarves, jackets, and jewelry among other things.  In the meantime, Joy and I window shopped, zig-zagged through side streets, stopped for lunch and walked all the way to Fortezza Albornoz to enjoy the views of the hills below.

Soon we backtracked to explore the other end of Corso Cavour as we headed to Pozzo della Cava, a well built in Etruscan caves at the behest of Pope Clement VII.  The self-guided tour took us through nine caves past Estruscan artifacts and the well, but I think I would have rather taken the guided tour of Orvieto’s underground, offered at the Piazza Duomo.  It seemed more extensive, approximately an hour rather than ten minutes, but the tour was only at certain times which didn’t work well for the whole group.  Under a time constraint, however, we got to see the Etruscan underground!

While most of the shops were open, a particular jewelry store closed for a few hours, so we asked to stay in Orvieto a little longer than the planned 3pm departure.  While we waited, we hung out at Enoteca al Duomo in the lovely weather.  Orvieto is a wonderful mid-sized town, and I believe a favorite for many on the trip!  ETB

WANT TO TAKE THIS ARTICLE WITH YOU?  DOWNLOAD IT HERE WITH THIS GPSMyCity TRAVEL APP LINK:

https://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/tuscan-towns-4015.html

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here:http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/featured

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here:http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

For notecards, key chains, or photographs, visit Notable Notecards or Niche Notecards on Etsy. A portion of the sales are donated to charity and a travel story is associated with each one.