To celebrate the Luxembourgish holiday of Whit Monday (we are still not clear on what this is), we decided to hightail it out of town and fly to Ischia, a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, just off of Naples. To make the most of our 4 day trip, we booked a 7am flight out of nearby Brussels, and woke up at 3am to drive a couple hours north to the airport.
Nearly 15 years ago, we had our first real international travel experience together while studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Since then, Tuscany has always held a nostalgic place for us. For our first big trip of spring, we decided to do a roadtrip in Tuscany, to check out hill towns and some of the secondary cities in the region.
As the summer started to wind down, we decided to head to Puglia, a region in southern Italy located on the "heel of the boot." We learned about Puglia from some Italians living in Luxembourg, and they described it as a rugged, natural area home to miles of olive groves, rustic cooking, and grottoes lined with turquoise water, all undiscovered by the international tourism community. We flew from Frankfurt Hahn airport on a Thursday morning and landed in Bari just after noon. Then we traversed 800 miles by car as we explored Matera, Monopoli, Ostuni, Alberobello, Otranto and more.
For our first trip of spring, we decided to bail out of still-wintry Luxembourg and return to Florence for the first time since studying abroad together as 20 year-old college students from Ohio. We woke up before dawn on Friday and jumped on the first flight out of Lux to Milan. The flight to Milan always jolts and rocks over the Alps, so while Erin was in a drug-induced nap, Dave was doing deep breathing exercises and filming the crags below as we chopped the air in our propeller plane at 24,000 feet.
After scanning the dreary Luxembourg weekend weather forecast, we decided on a whim to make a getaway for Milan. We headed out of Luxembourg airport Friday evening and white-knuckled it through a bumpy flight southward over the Alps. Friday evening we walked from our hotel to the Duomo, a Gothic-style cathedral, which is one of the biggest in Europe and took more than 600 years to complete. We marvelled at the intricate facade and then headed over to Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, one of the world's oldest shopping malls. The galleria features glass and iron ceilings and arcades filled with Italian designer stores like Prada and Versace. For more than 150 years, this has been a revered meeting place and shopping destination. After window-shopping, we headed back through the rainy streets to rest for an early start the next day.
For our first family visit since moving to Lux, we joined up with Cindy, Shawn and Avery for a nine-day tour from northern Italy to its southern shores.
On Thursday night we drove 3 hours from Lux to Frankfurt to catch a night flight to Venice. We chose the fastest route according to our GPS, but the computer selected a route that no sane human would choose that led us down pitch-black, winding German country roads in the pouring rain. We snatched some traditional German pretzels at the airport, took a water taxi through the canals and arrived in at our traditional Venetian guesthouse after midnight.
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