Adventures with J and K- Lugano, Luzern, Tuscany, and Burano

I spent the first two weeks of April adventuring with two of my close friends from vet school. I recognize how lucky I am to have friends that can come entertain me while I live in Europe.

Kelly and Julie flew to Milan, where I picked them up and we drove to Lugano, Switzerland. Lugano is a beautiful lakeside town with an Italian flair. After a night there, we drove to Luzern, which is located in central Switzerland. This is probably what people think of when picturing Switzerland- snow capped mountains framing lakes filled with boats and swans, with green pastures and small farms dotting the hillsides.

View from the top of Monte Bre, Lugano.
View from the top of Monte Bre, Lugano.
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Touristing. I still have yet to see the amazing pictures from either of these two.
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It was chilly on the lake cruise.

IMG_9121 IMG_9130Switzerland is beautiful but impractical for mere mortals to visit due to the expense. We paid 12 Euro for tap water one night and I am pretty sure that is crazy.

IMG_9128This is the Lion of Luzern; this statue commemorates the members of the Swiss Guard who were killed during the French Revolution in 1792. Beautiful, haunting, heart breaking.

After Switzerland, we returned to Vicenza where we started several days of adventures close to home. Verona, Soave, a 4.5 hour long traditional Easter lunch, Arqua Petrarca… and of course, Venice. On this trip to Venice, we ventured out to the island of Burano.

Burano is known for its brightly colored houses, which are meant to beckon the fishmermen home from sea on gloomy days. I love this little island the same way I love everything else Venetian- early in the morning before the other tourists get moving. We arrived on the island before 9 AM and left just after lunch, as the water bus was unloading hoards of people. For a people person it is becoming increasingly apparent that maybe I do not like people after all?

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The church tower on Burano leans at the same five degree angle as the Leaning Tower of Pisa… saves me a trip!
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A little bit of Florida?
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Pretty bird, pretty bird.
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Barking at the boat, because sometimes it moved and that is unacceptable.
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Repairing the net.
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It is impossible to take a posed picture of these two jokers.
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Sort of reminds me of some of the houses in NOLA, each with its own personality.
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love love love.
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You can see the mountains way over yonder. Such a clear day! This photo is from the main island of Venice while we waited for the water bus.

IMG_9251 IMG_9248 IMG_9241 IMG_9259 IMG_9273 IMG_9231 IMG_9233 IMG_9235 After our time in Northern Italy, we took the train and then a bus to a small town in Tuscany called Greve-in-Chianti. That evening, we stayed at a little apartment and ate the restaurant owned by the same family. Delicious food, expensive wine, amazing label.

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Alessandro and his parents each had their own wine and label. His dad was on the riserva, of course.

What does one do in Tuscany? The answer is simple- Taste wine, drive around, look at medieval villages and enjoy the scenery. We hired a driver, Giovanni, whom I highly recommend, as he was fun and full of information about everything. He can be reached through his company Sunflower Tours.  Julie also introduced me to motion sickness patches which are amazing and I do not know how I have survived without them until now!

The town with the tall towers is San Gimignano. I would recommend driving by, taking a picture or two, and then waving at the busloads of day trippers as you find a smaller, less crowded walled medieval village to visit. Of course I cannot remember the names of the other places we went, but they were far superior simply because they reside off the beaten tourist track.

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tasting wine at the cantina.
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Many of the medieval towns are well preserved within their town walls.
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Seventy-two towers used to dot this skyline during the 1200s. They were owned and built by wealthy families.
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The black rooster (gallo nero) is the symbol of Chianti Classico wine. These wines must have at least 80% sangiovese grapes, along with some other strict guidelines. The Chianti region lies between Firenze and Siena.
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Castellina-in-Chianti

IMG_9319 IMG_9361 IMG_9356 IMG_9369After Tuscany, we headed to Firenze, where J and K viewed the David and we shopped for leather goods. I hung out while they toured the Duomo. So. Many. Tourists.

IMG_9330That is all for now! Later, y’all.

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