pictures : Prague and Around

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

photos : Biergartens!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

pictures : Munich

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

pictures : In / Around Bavaria

Train to Munich. Rent car. Drive north to Bamberg. Stay the night. Drive south to Dinkelsbuhl. Stay the night. Drive farther south to Mittenwald. Stay the night. Return to Munich. We love Bavaria.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

pictures : Venice, Italy

Highlights:
Breakfasts in the garden at Ponte Chiodo
Getting super lost everyday
Deep fried meatballs
Peggy Guggenheim Museum
Microbrews and crostini at La Cantina
Dinner by the canals

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

pictures : Cinque Terra, Italy

Highlights:
Hiking between the 5 coastal towns.
Amazing seafood.
Rocky beaches and swimming in the Mediterranean.
The Basil Championships in Corniglia!
Our room and roof terrace at Arpuia.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

words / pictures / video : Il Palio

Twice every year, on July 2nd and then again on August 16th, Siena’s main town square is turned into a dirt horse track and over 60,000 people squeeze between the narrow streets to participate in the race and the accompanying celebrations known as Il Palio. Each of the 10 Contradas face off to crown the winner of the Il Palio each year. Although we hadn’t planned it this way, our trip to Tuscany coincided perfectly with the first race. Florence is a relatively short bus ride away, so on Friday morning we woke up early, packed sandwiches and plenty of water and made our way to Siena.

We arrived shortly before noon and even though the race wasn’t set to start until close to 8, the streets were already packed with revelers. We wandered around the beautiful, hilly city and ended up at Osteria da Cice. The inviting tables, cleverly perched on the hill, made us temporarily ‘forget’ that we had packed lunch. It was at Cice that we had the best pesto we have ever eaten. We also had two different kinds of excellent crostini (one had some kind of cabbage, the other some kind of pate), hearty ribbolita and a dish of white beans and sausage. Complemented with half a liter of wine and a couple of beers and we were as happy as clams. We continued our slow, aimless stroll through the city and were soon greeted with the sounds and colors of the parade of the Contradas.

The main square is clamshell shaped with eleven or so narrow, crooked streets leading to it. We wandered down one such street and came upon a near empty square.  We  knew we had to be inside the square before they shut the doors and transformed the outer ring of the square into a full dirt horse racing track. But why 4 hours early? We soon found out enough. For the next four hours we stood in the blazing sun packed like sardines as the 10 Contradas and other local dignitaries gracefully trotted around the track, playing music and waving to the crowd. Then for one minute, there was the craziest bare-back horse race you’ll ever see.

There were only two buses back to Florence that night and they left exactly 20 minutes after Il Palio ended. We had to run through the crowds and find our way back to the bus station through the twisting and turning town of Siena. We made it.

We felt very lucky to be part of this event. It also makes you realize how different our cultures and histories truly are.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.