Sunday, March 31, 2013

Grand Tour of Italy Day 1 and 2

I've always wanted to visit Italy. It is the home of my paternal Grandfather, Vincenzo "Jimmy" Nutile son of Pelligrino Nutile and Emanuella "Eva" Rocci.
Vincenzo is on the far right
He was born February 5, 1883 in Lapio Province of Avellino, Region Campania Italy.   He arrived in the USA in 1884. Lapio is an agricultural center in the heart of Irpinia, in a valley on the left bank of the Calore River. It's name comes form the adjective lapideus, meaning "stony" and is mentioned in a document of 894 AD. Since the year 1000 the town followed the events linked to the Filangieri Family, who owned the land for about seven centuries until 1806, the year when feudalism was abolished.

A visit to Italy has been on my bucket list. Jay and I started talking seriously about a trip last October but waited until this February to book. We checked out many tour groups but Go Ahead Tours was the only one to offer close to what I wanted to see and do with my time in Italy. Their Grand Tour of Italy sounded wonderful! So we booked!

Saturday Day 1 March 16, 2013
Dropped off Riley for his 15 day "Spa" vacation at Willow Farm in Springfield VT.

We drove to Boston from our home in Weathersfield VT (population 2600.) We left about 1 PM and hit Boston around 3:30. Dropped our car off at Thrifty Cars in Revere. And hit the airport. We chose to eat at Durgin Park. food was expensive but good and we got to watch the UMASS-UVC A10 semi-final basketball game while we ate.

We boarded our British Airways flight to Heathrow and settled in for the LONG flight over the "pond". So we left Boston at 6:55 PM and arrived in Heathrow at 5AM. But the fairly good food and free beer and wine helped to ease the flight stress; plus they were showing some pretty great films like "Trouble with the Curve", "Argo", "Perks of Being a Wallflower" and about 16 other current movies to choose from.

Sunday Day 2 March 17, 2013
Heathrow was empty and the folks that were there at the crack of dawn seemed to be all connected to something electronic except the bumpkins from Vermont who were journaling and reading the new TIME about Pope Francesco.

Out flight from Heathrow to Milan is uneventful and we are both amazed at the ease of Immigration into Italy. Yup that's you in the picture, OK, stamp, move along. No scan, no departure card, nothing. After grabbing our bags we exit customs and meet up with a lady from Go Ahead tours. She's collecting us for our bus ride from Milan to Lecco.

Our hotel in Lecco is the Hotel NH Pontevecchio, part of the Swiss Hotel Group. We meet with our mamma anatra (our Mama Duck) Misia Massa who welcomes us to Italy and assigns us our rooms. Once again the bumpkins from Vermont are in awe. The key card controls the door and the lights in your room! There is a bidet and to flush the toilet, no handle but a rocker type switch above the toilet.

We decide not to sleep and go out for a walk around Lecco.
More Images from Lecco: Lecco Day 1

We found a cute little Osteria called .COM (Cucina Orientata alMangiar and bere bene) at Lungo Lario Isonzo 15 and stopped for pizza and something hot to drink. I try out my "baby" Italian and get by pretty well (the lady spoke English anyway but it was fun to try to communicate in Italian!) We ate the pizza with fork and knife because we read in Rick Steve's book that Americans look like "monkeys" to Italians when the fold a slice and eat it with their hands. So for 19.50 euros we had two pizzas, water, espresso, and cafe americano. 

Back to the hotel for a power nap before our Welcome Dinner!
 Dinner Primo: Farfalle (bow) pasta in red sauce Secundo: Salmon with green beans and pototoes and creme brule for dessert. 
 Wine: Victoria Chardonnay and Piermonte Barbear Roche 2011.
Misia gives us all on overview of the next two weeks and explains in some detail what the optional side trips will involve. We will each get a radio (50 euros to replace them so don't lose them, OK.) She will post a poster in each hotel lobby with our schedule of times and events. So for our second day, breakfast at 7 AM and check out at 7:45. We will have a tour of the Lake Como region. We travel from Lecco to Como to Tremezzo, then a boat tour of Lake Como. The group will have some free time then meet for dinner.

Jay and I had originally only purchased the optional Lake Como Tour but after hearing about the other tours we purchased: Day 5 Gondola, Day 8 Siena and San Gimignano, Day 10 Perugia and Day 12 Capri.

After most folks left, we met up with Morgan and Jennifer, two young ladies in our group from NJ and NY. The four of us "recycled" the remaining wine and bottled waters!

Lights out at 22:06!

Ciao, Ciao
Tomorrow Day 2 Lecco, Como, Duomo, Tremezzo, Villa Carlotta, Boat Trip around Como and Bellagio

Lecco March 17 Day 1
Grand Tour of Italy
Go Ahead Tours 
March 16-30, 2013
Copyright ©2013 Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
www.photosbynanci.com
More images of Italy: http://photosbynanci.smugmug.com/GrandTourofItaly
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