Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Bridges across the Passer River into  Merano
Flowers in Merano

Merano's concert hall 
Wide promenades along the river

Medieval gate into Merano's old city
Slightly south of the Austrian border is the city of Merano, Italy. In this mountainous section of Italy, the people speak both German and Italian as the area was part of Austria until after World War I.  

Merano is a beautiful city situated in a basin beside the Passer River. Surrounded by the south Tyrolean Alps that rise up to 11,000 feet high, the town is noted for a mild climate and health spas.  Merano counts Ezra Pound and Franz Kafka among famous residents of the past.

Our hotel near Vicenza
Continuing south, we spent a few relaxing days in a hotel on a mountaintop just outside the city of Vicenza before moving on to Ravenna. 

St. Francesco Church Ravenna
Ravenna has a large, interesting historic district as it was the capital city of several ancient empires. There are 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites here. Ravenna  is mentioned in Dante's Inferno and he is buried here.

Piazza del Popolo Ravenna
Basillica St. Vitale Ravenna

Seeking beaches and sunshine, we made our way to Italy's Adriatic coast.  We spent four days in Bellaria-Igea Marina followed by four days in Alba Adriatica. Both are typical seaside towns. The beaches are lined with umbrellas and lounge chairs as far as the eye can see.  A walking and bike riding path runs alongside the beach, and hotels, cafes and shops line the streets.  It seems like every Italian family in the country vacations along this coast.  As Americans, we are a rarity.  Most of the hotels, including the ones we stayed at in each town, have a private section of beach and provide umbrella and beach chairs. 

Beaches line Italy's Adriatic coast 
Most also offer full board.  As opposed to half board which includes breakfast and dinner, full board also includes lunch. Lunches and dinners are four course meals. First there is a salad buffet, then a pasta dish, an entree and dessert. Breakfasts are always described as 'sweet and savory' meaning lots of pastries and breads.  From what we have seen of the typical diet here, it is a wonder all Italians aren't obese.  

We now continue south toward the heel of Italy. 

Our hotel in Alba Adriatica
Hotel's private beach

Saturday, August 9, 2014


A rare sunny day in Kaltenbach
The spa in Kaltenbach

We visited 3 towns in the Austrian state of Tyrol.  All are popular ski resorts as the area is in the heart of the Alps.  They are also popular summer destinations as Austrians love hiking the mountain trails. 
Unfortunately, rain and clouds continued to dampen most of our days but not our spirits. 
Semi-sunny day in Kaltenbach

Kaltenbach had one of the nicest facilities of the trip.  We had a large, bright room with a balcony.  Food on the half board menu was excellent. There was a spacious garage for the car and a new beautiful spa area. 

Aurora & Alan

Climbing even higher into the mountains, we arrived in the charming town of Seefeld.  For once there was more sunshine than rain which was a real blessing since we planned to meet friends there.  
Flower Power Parade
Flower Power Parade

You may remember Alan from previous blogs.  He met us last year in Montpelier, France and the last 2 winters, he came over from Colorado to spend a few days with us in Palm Desert.  This time, Alan is traveling with his friend Aurora.  It was wonderful to spend some time with them.  We were fortunate to be in Seefeld for the annual Flower Power Parade and had a perfect view of the flower floats, antique tractors and fire engines from Alan and Aurora’s balcony. 
St. Anton am Arlberg

St. Anton am Arlberg, our last stop in Austria, had everything we have enjoyed about this country… magnificent scenery, a pristine town, pure mountain air and beautiful alpine architecture.  
Scenes around St. Anton am Arlberg

Scenes around St. Anton am Arlberg
Our hotel was in the pedestrian district and in walking distance to 6 ski lifts which is why the town is best known for skiing.  Our hotel was new and modern and every room had an infra red sauna cabin.  The benefits of infra red saunas are numerous.  Once again, we chose the half board option and the food was the best we have had on the whole trip.
Scenes around St. Anton am Arlberg 

So now it is time to say Auf Wiedersehen to Austria and head back into Italy.   

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