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52 Weeks, Week 30

Posted by on Jul 27, 2015 in Family and friends | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of my girls and life in general in 2015

Chiara – She was thrilled to be at her grandparents’ house last week where she went fishing, helped feed the chickens, and played with her younger cousin. All three cousins stayed at their grandparents’ house by themselves, sans parents, this past week. This made the three grandchildren and their parents extremely happy while leaving two grandparents pretty exhausted by week’s end.

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Ines – She was her grandmother’s little helper last week, especially when it had to do with bathing and choosing her cousin’s daily outfits.

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The summer is just going so fast!!!  As much as fun as we are having this summer, both girls are pretty excited to go back to school especially C who’s eagerly anticipating middle school. Have a great week!

Must-Visit Amalfi Coast Towns

Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

I have to warn you that this post contains lots and lots of photos. What can I say? The Amalfi Coast is just extremely photogenic.  It was pretty challenging to pick and choose which photos to share with you to give you the ambience of the various towns we visited.  Like Capri, the Amalfi Coast is very vertical so we had to go up and down many, many steps.  Also, the roads are very narrow so driving around was always an adventure.  Not only did we have to be very vigilant but we also often got out of the car feeling a little light headed from the incessant winding roads.

We stayed at Villa Principessa in Minori, a smaller, less-touristy area that had a quaint town center. I liked it because it gave you a more local feel of the area. In the past, Minori was the center of Amalfi Maritime Republic during Roman times. Today, it’s more or less a rather quiet town that comes alive at night and on the weekends.

minorivilla View from the villa we rented

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minoribarber A very charming barber who insisted that I take a photo of him

Another town we visited was Vietri Sul Mare, known for its ceramics with tradition of making them that goes back to the 1400s. Many stores line up the main street but I caution you to go further into the street to see more of the local artisans who actually produce and paint ceramic tiles on site.

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vietri San Giovanni Battista in Vietri

Positano, known as the gem of the Amalfi Coast, is probably the most well-known town in this region. When you make your way down the beach, you’ll see a church, Santa Maria dell’Asunta, with mainly yellow and green-tiled cupola. Many churches in the area actually have the same type of cupolas, as you can see from the photo above in Vietri Sul Mare. I did not do my research but the style strikes me as Byzantine-influenced.

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Last, but not least, the town I loved the most in this area, Ravello. It’s quieter than Positano but it has splendid views of the coast. I highly suggest visiting Villa Rufolo. It has wonderful gardens and a concert stage unlike no other. Basically, behind the main stage is what seems to be eternally blue water. Also, do visit the Duomo where you’ll see detailed mosaic columns that rest on sculpted lions. I suggest rewarding yourself after all the sight seeing with lunch or dinner at Da Salvatore , where the views are stunning and the food is creatively presented and just beyond delicious.

villarufolo Villa Rufolo

villarufolo.concert

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classicvillarufolo Classic photo from Villa Rufolo. You’ll see tons of postcards with this image.

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amalfibynight Amalfi by night

Hope you enjoyed this post. Next week, I’ll have photos from our visit to Pompeii.

52 Weeks, Week 29

Posted by on Jul 20, 2015 in Family and friends | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of my girls and life in general in 2015

Chiara – She’s happy to be back in Normandy after a week and half in Italy. She loved showing her friends, Emma and Ethan, who also went with us in Italy, parts of Deauville and Honfleur.

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Ines – Also, happy to back in Normandy. I took advantage of summer sales when we got back from Italy. And this girl is becoming quite my shopping assistant.

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Have a great week!

Navigating Capri

Posted by on Jul 17, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

I want to share with you some of my personal insights in case you’d like to visit Capri one day. We spent only three full days there, which may seem short but I thought was enough. It gets pretty crowded in the summer so it’s not as relaxing as I’d like it to be. But overall, I think the places we visited were unforgettable and most of the locals we met were very helpful and friendly.

So here we go — my advice on how to do Capri.

1 – Rent a Capri boat. We actually rented one through a company called Banana Sport Tours, which has boats that you can rent for two hours at a time. The dads in our group navigated the boat themselves without prior boat sailing experience. At first, we were a little wary given there were no experience required and tons of waiver forms to fill out. But we came out of the boat excursion completely satisfied. We were able to navigate around the whole island and stop off at certain places where the kids can snorkel or swim. I really don’t think you can fully enjoy Capri without a boat tour of the island.

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2 – See the Blue Grotto. This is one of the recommended boat excursion stops. We actually have to anchor our boat and wait for smaller boats navigated by locals to take us in the grotto. The entrance to the cave is super low so you actually have to recline as low as possible in your boat to avoid getting hurt. For anyone who’s a little claustrophobic, be prepared. However, once inside the grotto, you’ll realize what the fuss is all about. The water is intensely blue and everything around you is pitch dark. Magical, magical.

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3 – Be ready to sweat, climb and go down lots of steps, and walk. So pack lightly and don’t bother with heels. Cars are usually not allowed on the island so be prepared to take public transportation and do some walking.

4 – Spend time in Anacapri. It’s the island’s second biggest town and worth the visit. It’s a bit quieter than other parts of town. Must stops include the Chiesa San Michele for the well-preserved mosaic floors with the “Creation of Man” bible story illustrated laboriously across the entire church’s floor. Also, make sure to visit Villa San Michele to get excellent views from the top of the hill.

anacapri

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5 – Our favorite restaurant on the island was Panorama Capri, tucked nicely prior to reaching Capri Centro or Piazzetta. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, allowing us to try local food, including breaded zucchini flower and the best pizza margherita ever. They have a local garden within the restaurant where you’ll see the chef and waiters take ingredients from.

panoramacapri

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6 – Get personalized sandals made. At first, I thought it was pretty indulgent but the prices were pretty reasonable. Besides, that’s all you’ll be wearing in Capri anyway. So, yes, the girls and I ended up getting our own personalized sandals made.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this post on Capri. Have a great weekend! I’ll be back next week with details on our stay at the Amalfi Coast.

52 Weeks, Week 28

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in Family and friends | 0 comments

Weekly Snapshots of my girls and life in general in 2015

It has been a whirlwind of events as we rushed through different vacation and car rentals as well as seeing various sites the past week. After Capri, we went to the Amalfi Coast for almost a week with our dear friends and their children. We are now back in our house in Normandy and I expect things to quiet down for a bit during our summer here. At least, I’d like to think so.

I promise to post photos of our trip in Italy in the next week or so. I think I have over 400+ images to sift through so it’s a bit overwhelming but I’ll get through them in a matter of time.

In the meantime, here are my weekly snapshots…

Chiara – She had the best time over the last two weeks hanging out with my friends’ children. It’s interesting to see how they have become closer over the years, so close that she now calls them her cousins.

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Ines – She’s the youngest in the kids’ group. It has not been easy for her as she tried to keep up with the older kids but she still managed to hold her own, albeit frustratedly with a little kicking and screaming.

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Hope you’re having great summer so far! See you here in a few days.