A Getaway for the Day

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This past Saturday the husband and I ventured out on our first trip with ITT.
We went on a day trip to an Italian brewery, winery, and grappa museum.
The bus departed from base at 8:30 in the morning, and we headed straight to the Pedavena Brewery. It was about a two hour drive along winding mountain roads that a large bus probably did not belong on. We finally arrived at the foot of the Avena Mountain at the Padavena Brewery a little before 11.

We went on what was supposably a tour of the brewery, but Jacob and I weren't quite impressed.

I suppose after checking out breweries in the Pacific Northwest, an Italian brewery doesn't quite measure up. At the end of the tour we were told that we would get to do a tasting, but apparently at Padavena that means only trying one kind of beer. Everyone on the tour was a bit baffled, but they explained that we would have many more options that we could order with our lunch. Hmmmmm....

After a lunch of beer and pizza, we got back on the road. I think everyone on the trip took a wonderful 45 minute nap before we arrived at the Prosecco winery.

Neither my husband nor I are big Prosecco drinkers, but after tasting four different types, we did find one what was just delicious. Of course it was what the vineyard called their "superior" Prosecco, and they only make a limited amount each year. We left the vineyard with two bottles and figured we would save them for a special occasion. Perhaps when my parents visit in March? More about that another time :)
The next stop on our trip was to a neat town called Bassano del Grappa. This area is known for it's grappa, a drink that I have to admit I am not a huge fan of. Grappa is extremely popular in Italy (actually I haven't really heard of it anywhere outside of Italy), but it's just not for me. It's made by the leftovers from the when wine is made, and it is far too strong for me. 
We visited the Poli Grappa museum, which is one of the oldest grappa distilleries. 

We were able to taste a few different types of grappa, but nothing struck my fancy.
After the museum we were able to explore a bit, and found ourselves on the Ponte Vecchio, or "old bridge", which is a major landmark of the city. 

I will admit, by this point in the day I was tired and ready to be home. But the tour wasn't over yet, we still had dinner. 
We headed back towards Aviano, and dined at the wonderful Castel Brando. Yes, we ate dinner in a castle. Unfortunately it was dark and we were tired, so I don't have any pictures. It was definitely a neat experience. Castel Brando has a restaurant, spa, and hotel. It's only about an hour from Aviano, so we are definitely looking into going back again, but this time for the spa! 
It was about midnight by the time the bus finally arrived back on base, and I was sooooo ready to be in my comfy bed. 
This was our first ITT experience, and I doubt we will go on any other trips with them. I'm not a fan of the whole group situation, or riding on big buses. But that's just my personal preference, I'm sure for others it's a great way to see a lot in a small amount of time. 
It was a nice getaway for the day, and we got to see some places that we probably wouldn't have gone to by ourselves. 

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oh how I love 3-day weekends.
That extra little day just makes all the difference.
Sometimes I feel a little spoiled by where we live, and how close we are to places that everyone else must vacation long and far to visit.
This weekend we decided to venture out about 2 hours from our home to Verona.
We could have easily made this trip in just a day, but sometimes its fun to getaway for the night.
We stayed at a lovely hotel called Relais 900, which was located on a slight hill overlooking Verona. It was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel to the center of the city.
One of the things I love about this town is how condensed everything is. It's not spread out like many other cities we've visited. This made for a very enjoyable and stress-free trip.
When we first arrived we were able to immediately check into our hotel, even though it was only noon. The owner greeted us and showed us around. The room we stayed in was huge by European standards. The hotel also provided free parking, which is a HUGE perk seeing as most other places charged around 20 euro a day.
As soon as we dropped our stuff off in our room, we headed into town with some fantastic restaurant recommendations from our host.
Lunch has become my favorite meal here in Italy, and we dined at a delicious little restaurant called Osteria da Ugo.

We were lucky that they seated us because apparently most people had reservations.

The food was amazing!

We started with a spread of various cheeses, and for our main dishes the hubs had a delicious sirloin in a red wine sauce topped with truffles, while I had pesto tortellini with eggplant, almonds, and goat cheese.
It was fantastic.
Next we moseyed on over to Piazza Bra to see the Arena di Verona. We haven't been to Rome yet, so this is the first amphitheater that I've seen.

It was pretty amazing.
There was all sorts of stuff going on right outside of the Area, so we walked around and enjoyed some chocolate and hot red wine.

I hadn't heard much about Verona before arriving, and I was surprised by all of the shopping. Lots of small narrow streets full of shops.
The weather wasn't what I would consider to be ideal, and once the sun went down I think I stayed permanently frozen. We had a casual dinner at a wine bar we stumbled across, and headed back to our warm hotel room.
One of the things I love about traveling in Italy is that breakfast is almost always complimentary, and it's been my experience that more often than not this also includes a cappuccino. We enjoyed a yummy breakfast at our hotel before braving the cold again.
We woke up to a city covered in frost. Luckily it didn't stick around long!

We started our morning at the Basilica di Santa Anatasia.

We were told that parts of the church had recently been re-touched, and it was absolutely beautiful.

Next we set out to find the Casa di Giulietta, or Juliet's house.

It was much smaller than I envisioned, and if you weren't looking for it you could easily miss it. 

We wandered around Verona a bit more, and after lunch we headed just outside Verona to an olive oil mill. I scheduled for us to have a tour and do an olive oil tasting at Frantoio Bonamini.

I have to admit, it was all pretty interesting. I had no idea how olive oil was made, and was surprised by how simple the process is.
The tasting was the most fun, and we came home with lots of yummy goodies.

I highly recommend a weekend getaway to Verona, it is definitely one of my favorite cities in Italy.

New Years Resolutions: A Month at a Time

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!
I hope everyone had a wonderful time ringing in 2012.
One of the first things we think about when talking about a new year are resolutions.
I contemplated all the different resolutions I could list, but what's the point?
Why do we wait for a new year to begin in order to take a look at our lives and figure out what we need change?
I don't know about everyone else, but for me a year is way too long to achieve something. Giving myself that much time to reach a goal is basically setting myself up for failure. If you have 12 months to do something, then it becomes soooooo easy to put it off or even worse- forget about it.
So I thought I would try something a little different this year. Instead of making a list of goals for the entire year, I decided to make a list of a few things that I just want to achieve in January. To me that is so much more realistic. My plan is to continue this for each month, all year. This seems like a much more productive way of doing things for me.
What are my goals for January?
Read 2 books
Run a 5k (without stopping to walk)
Attend Mass once a week
Travel to 2 new places
Do yoga once a week 

Anyone else feel the same way regarding resolutions?
What kind of resolutions did you all make this year?
I plan on checking back in at the end of January to see if I've reached my goals, and to choose new ones for February! Anyone else want to join in on this monthly journey?