Wednesday, August 27, 2014

RETURN TO ITALY

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