My son, 79 year old mother and I went to Spain and Italy: Dec. 4th to 17th2007. We met my brother there who works as a tour guide in Italy, he was vacationing in Spain at Costa del Sol when we first met him.
When we arrived in Spain my brother picked us up in a rental car and drove us back to his time-share in the Marriot at Estapone. His room faced the Mediterranean Sea! What a beautiful sight to see! Every morning we had our coffee on the balcony and gazed at the sea and the palm trees.
It remained a sunny 20C. On the first day we drove up to Mijas, a small tourist town in the mountains, just northeast of where we were staying.
In the afternoon we went to the Fuengirola Zoo where I saw my first live, in-person gorilla! He was inches away behind a wall of plexiglass! We also saw crocodiles, alligators, meerkats, lemurs, chimps, mousedeer, a wide range of birds to name a few! That night we went to a traditional Spanish dinner and were entertained by flamenco dancers. I love gazpacho! And the paella was very good too!
The next day we went up into the mountains to the northwest to a town called Ronda and drove home, snaking our way down the mountain, a different route where we could see the beautiful ‘white towns’ that mark the mountain sides. The homes in Spain are exactly like every picture I’ve ever seen! Spanish tiles are very popular and very beautiful and the homes’ roofs are all the traditional clay shingles.
Our first day in Rome was cool and rainy. My brother got the ‘okay’ to have us follow one of the tour groups the business he works for had going that day. We went to see the Colosseum and through the ruins, The Forum, The Pantheon and other land marks. The tour guide, Francesca was very interesting! While in Rome we also saw the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Spanish Stairs, The Trevi Fountain and The Sistine Chapel and The Pope! The streets of Rome are crazy! The traffic was something else! So many cars going so fast, the lines marking the lanes on the road appeared to be merely a suggestion as cars weaved all over missing each other by inches, it seemed but we didn’t see one traffic accident the whole time we were there. My favorite site was St. Peter’s Basilica! It took my breath away!
The Italian food was wonderful! We had pasta almost everyday and wine with every dinner. The best restaurant we ate at was Hostaria Dei Bastioni, where Emilio, the chef is a friend of my brother’s.
We worked off our indulgent eating as we did a lot of walking! Romans like to be outdoors and you see them walking everywhere. The stores close every afternoon from around 2 pm until 4 and restaurants close from around 3 and open for supper around 7-7:30. They eat late in Rome! There are terra cotta tiles, and marble floors everywhere!
We drove up to a town called Latera where my brother recently bought a house. He hasn’t done anything with it yet so we didn’t stay there but a friend of his offered his summer home to us. We stayed 2 nights in Latera. The first afternoon we toured the town. It’s not touched by tourism so it was very quiet and peaceful, just my speed!
The next day we toured the country side, visiting a medieval town called Orvietto, and Tenuta Le Velette, a winery. We saw a lot of vineyards and olive orchards on our drive! We rounded one corner and were surprised by a sheep herd coming down the road!
If you would like to tour Italy go to Rick Steves.com